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Chants gut one out

The journey for the HMS Chanticleer on Saturday, with all its young hands on deck, again had its rough patches.

Seven CCU fumbles were akin to cut rigging and there was a snapped mast in the form of two long touchdown runs surrendered. But unlike the Dover experience, CCU hung on and sailed into port with a 28-21 win to even its record on the season.

"Every win is going to be gutty," CCU coach David Bennett said of his young team. "We did improve."

Starting quarterback Will Richardson was among those who improved.

After missing his first seven passes last week - though several catchable balls were dropped - the CCU starting quarterback completed 9 of 12 passes in the first half for 145 yards and a touchdown.

Richardson finished 16 of 24 for 301 yards (his first 300-yard game), with a touchdown pass and a strike to Jerome Simpson that setup up the game-winning touchdown. Richardson said of the 50-yard strike that it was "probably" the best pass he had thrown.

His sharp play rolled over to a better performance on third downs.

At Delaware State, CCU converted just 1-of-16. On Saturday, the Chants were 7-of-15, including a Richardson to Trent Usher 36-yard connection on third-and-30 to set up the game's first score, a 24-yard field goal from freshman kicker Justin Durham.

"I never [lacked] confidence," Richardson said. "The [two late touchdown drives at Dover] carried over.

"You can't replicate game speed but I've been in this offense so long I've practiced against the first team defense. I know where to look."

Among the others who improved were freshman Eric O'Neal, who gained 132 of the Chants' 483 yards.

And of course Simpson was, well, Simpson. He had three catches for 90 yards and come up one yard short of lengthening his touchdown streak to 10 games. That particular catch setup Tommy Fraser's go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Still, the Chants are not without their flaws.

Bennett had spoken at length this week about how his defense preformed well at Dover, if you takeaway a 53-yard touchdown pass, a 63-yard touchdown run and a long reverse gain. And again the defense played well in spurts but fell victim to big plays as the third quarter turned in the Monte Purvis Show.

In the quarter, the Rams' quarterback rushed for 66- and 80-yard touchdown runs to turn a five-point WSS halftime deficit into a 21-18 lead with 1:24 to play in the third.

"Missed assignments," Bennett said of the plays.

The miscues momentarily pulled CCU heads down on the sideline as the Chants trailed for the first time in the game and were staring at an 0-2 start.

CCU had built a lead early thanks to Justin Durham's two field goals. Richardson added to it by finishing off a 70-yard second-quarter drive with a 10-yard touchdown strike to Jamar Anderson to give Coastal a 12-0 lead.

Winston Salem-State answered with its own touchdown drive, a Jed Bines' 43-yard run shortly followed by a one-yard touchdown dive by Purvis that cut CCU's lead to 12-7.

The Rams continued to threaten, but a second fumble lost cost them as a few shifty runs from O'Neal led to a Fraser touchdown from one-yard out to give Coastal a 18-7 lead.