It came on a different day at a different location than planned, but Coastal Carolina produced the anticipated result Wednesday at Barker-Lane Stadium.
The Chanticleers escaped the impending wrath of Hurricane Florence by moving its game up from Saturday and to Campbell University from Conway, and imposed their own wrath on the Camels.
Coastal improved to 2-1 on the season with a 58-21 win over the upstart FCS member in the Big South Conference.
The game’s relocation resulted in just the third game since 2008 featuring an FBS program on the road at an FCS opponent, and first since Army traveled to Yale in 2014.
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The Chants were forced to leave Tuesday morning because the campus was evacuated and stayed in Raleigh, N.C., nearly an hour from Campbell.
“It was a tough situation, but our guys did a good job not dwelling on it,” senior quarterback Kilton Anderson said. “Our perspective was we’re lucky enough to have a roof over our heads. They’re going to travel us to safe places, and a lot of families back home and along the Carolinas coast aren’t as fortunate as us. So we looked at the bright side of it and said we’re lucky enough to come out here and play football, then travel home safely to another spot. We’re lucky, and we came out and performed and did what we had to do.”
Coastal amassed 574 yards of offense while holding Campbell to 306.
Five Chants rushed for more than 40 yards. In less than three quarters of action, Anderson completed 10 of 14 passes for 202 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, his first of the season on a deep pass on the final play of the first half. He added a team-high 67 yards rushing on five carries.
“This is the third time in a row he’s been a warrior,” CCU head coach Joe Moglia said of Anderson. “He certainly made some good plays for us, but a lot of that is just kind of sheer guts.”
Anderson also tied a Coastal Carolina record by completing 16 consecutive passes, albeit over five days. Anderson completed all eight of his pass attempts in the second half against UAB on Saturday and his first eight in the first half Wednesday to match Zach MacDowall’s school record set at VMI in 2010.
“That’s the team around me. That’s the kind of team we are,” Anderson said. “We’re becoming better and better every week, and that’s exciting. We all help each other out.”
It took nearly two full quarters for Coastal to establish its dominance, however. The Chants fell behind 21-10 before scoring the game’s final 48 points in the final 35 minutes.
Reminiscent of Saturday, though against a much lesser opponent, Coastal allowed three long touchdown drives in its first three defensive possessions.
“We kind of worked out the kinks a little bit in the beginning. They can’t wait that long,” Moglia said. “. . . Then what happened today and what’s happened in the past is we kind of kick into gear a little bit better. But that’s only because we’re correcting the mistakes we had in the first three or four series.”
Campbell, in its first season fielding scholarship players, took the opening kickoff 80 yards in 10 plays and scored on a beautifully lofted 18-yard pass from Daniel Smith to Caleb Snead to the right sideline to beat Preston Carey in coverage. The drive was aided by a 15-yard CCU penalty for hands to the face on a third down.
After Coastal tied the game with a nine-play, 63-yard drive of its own that culminated in a 12-yard TD pass over the middle from Anderson to Malcolm Williams, the Camels drove 69 yards in eight plays. Smith ended the drive with a 14-yard run around the left end, diving into the end zone just inside the left sideline. The drive included a Joshua Jones 31-yard run.
After Massimo Biscardi kicked a 34-yard field goal for the Chants, the Camels took a 21-10 lead after its third scoring drive of 68 yards in 10 plays. It was capped by a 1-yard Rocky Reid run and included an Aaron Blockmon 38-yard catch down the left sideline to the CCU 1.
“Coming out, I think we were just fired up and we had more energy than they did,” Smith said.
At that point, Campbell, in its first season in the Big South after its first 10 in the nonscholarship Pioneer Football League, had more than 200 yards through three drives in the game’s opening 20 minutes.
Following the first three drives, the Chants held the Camels to 42 yards on their next seven possessions while establishing a 31-point lead, and blocked a field goal attempt on Campbell’s final 62-yard possession against CCU reserves.
“I think we’re just a little off routine. We came out a little slow, but I feel as the game got along, we got a little more comfortable and got our heads right,” said sophomore defensive end Jeffrey Gunter, who had five total tackles, a forced fumble and a sack among three tackles for loss Wednesday. “Like coach said, we’ve got to decide to play. He said in the meeting earlier today when we decide to be a good defense, we are one heck of a defense. We just need to get our heads in the game and get comfortable, and that’s what we did.”
A scintillating 81-yard touchdown catch by Ky’Jon Tyler down the right sideline that featured a couple slipped tackles and cuts past other defenders was Coastal’s third score and pulled them within four points.
After a Campbell receiver dropped a third down catch that would have been good for a first down, resulting in the game’s first punt, Coastal took its first lead of the game with 4:26 left in the first half on Williams’ second TD of the game, a 38-yard over-the-shoulder catch down the middle of the field from Anderson.
The Chants drove 75 yards in nine plays to open the second half, and Torrance Marable capped the drive with a 1-yard TD run. The Chants added two more third-quarter touchdowns on a 30-yard Marable run and 21-yard TD pass from backup quarterback Bryce Carpenter to Jaivon Heiligh. It’s the second time the true freshmen and former high school teammates have connected for a TD this season.
In the fourth quarter, the Chants added a Marcus Outlow 3-yard TD run and 6-yard Baden Pinson TD run on the final play of the game.
Moglia was pleased with how his team and staff handled the short week, organization of the game’s relocation, elimination of practices, and travel plans for the pre-game, game and beyond. “I think we were phenomenal. I think we get A-pluses on that one,” Moglia said.