Coastal Carolina did not take the cheese.
After earning its first win against a Power Five Conference team in program history last week at Kansas, Coastal Carolina avoided a letdown against its lone Football Championship Subdivision opponent this season.
The Chanticleers defeated Norfolk State 46-7 on Saturday at Brooks Stadium, dominating the overmatched Spartans of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, who lost by just three points to Football Bowl Subdivision member Old Dominion in their season opener.
The Coastal coaching staff placed mouse traps in players’ lockers to remind them this was a potential “trap” game, and admonished players about taking the cheese. Kansas’ surprising 48-24 win at Boston College on Friday night heightened the coaching staff’s concern.
“I was nervous about how we’d show up, especially after Kansas blew Boston College out last night and everybody’s going, ‘Holy crap, what’s going on?’ ” Coastal head coach Jamey Chadwell said. “. . . I thought they handled that pretty well. They didn’t just come out and slop through the motions. I think there was some urgency and excitement, which was good to see.”
Coastal’s consecutive wins have come after a five-game losing streak.
“We’ve got a good opportunity to continue to build some momentum,” Chadwell said. “. . . We’ve got a lot to build on this week from this win, a couple wins in a row. I’m hoping they’ll continue to stay hungry and we’ll get better.”
Coastal (2-1) dominated the game at least as much as the score would indicate, holding Norfolk State to five first downs and 117 yards of offense while amassing 30 first downs and 521 yards of offense, including 401 yards rushing on 59 carries.
The Spartans (1-2) had just two first downs and 68 yards of offense in the first three quarters.
The 117 yards allowed are the fewest for a CCU defense since 2007, and are the third-fewest in school history behind only 93 yards versus Charleston (W. Va.) in 2003 and 87 yards versus Chowan in 2007. Senior defensive lineman Sterling Johnson had 3.5 tackles for loss Saturday.
Coastal’s 521 yards of offense are the most since it gained 574 yards at Campbell last September, and the 401 yards rushing are the most since the team rushed for 410 yards at Presbyterian in 2013.
As effective as the Chants were running the football, they didn’t match that success in the air. Sophomores Fred Payton and Bryce Carpenter split time at quarterback and combined to complete just 10 of 26 passes for 84 yards, with the longest completion being 13 yards.
“We’re missing too many easy completions, which I’m disappointed with,” Chadwell said. “We had some chances to really make some big plays and we’re not doing it consistently right now, so we’ve got a lot of work to do if we’re going to end up trying to be a good team this year.
“Our completion percentage was under 50 percent and you can’t win consistently with the teams that we play doing that.”
Payton, who was 7 of 19 for 65 yards, acknowledged he missed on some throws. “There were definitely some missed opportunities,” Payton said. “I feel I struggled getting into a rhythm today. I left a few plays out there. I know there were about three or four third downs that I could have made the throw and I just missed it . . . so I’ll focus on making sure I practice those this week.”
Junior running back C.J. Marable had his second consecutive 100-yard rushing game, gaining 101 and scoring a touchdown on 19 carries. Payton had 55 yards rushing, Carpenter had 54 yards rushing, and freshman running back Reese White had two rushing touchdowns.
Massimo Biscardi gave Coastal a 3-0 lead with a 41-yard field goal on the game’s opening 11-play, 52-yard drive that included a pair of third down conversions and a 27-yard gain by Payton on an option keeper.
Carpenter entered the game during Coastal’s second possession to complete a scoring drive that was capped by freshman running back Reese White’s first career touchdown on a 1-yard run.
The Chants caught a break when Norfolk State was flagged for roughing Carpenter on fourth down at the 2, giving them a first-and-goal at the 1 instead of a turnover on downs following an incomplete pass.
Chandler Kryst stepped in front of a Juwan Carter pass to the right sideline at the Spartans 39 for his third interception in four quarters of football and he returned it to the 32. Coastal converted the turnover into a 32-yard Biscardi field goal to take a 12-0 lead late in the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Marable lost his first fumble of the season at the CCU 42 when the ball was stripped as he was held up in a pile.
Norfolk State converted the turnover into a touchdown, as Carter converted a fourth-and-1 at the CCU 33 with a 25-yard naked bootleg and hit tight end Anthony Williams for a 4-yard touchdown pass along the back of the end zone to cut the deficit to 12-7.
Late in the second quarter, Carpenter hit sophomore tight end Isaiah Likely for an 8-yard touchdown pass over the middle after he broke a tackle to gain a first down on a 3-yard scramble on fourth-and-2 at the Norfolk State 33.
Coastal was stopped a yard shy of a touchdown on the final play of the first half. The Chants took possession at their 39 with 41 seconds remaining and no timeouts, and drove 60 yards including a 28-yard run by Marable. But Coastal snapped the ball with 9 seconds on the clock and Payton rolled out of the pocket to his left and was tackled at the 1 as time ran out.
“I saw a big, huge chunk of field and figured I could run it in. I’m not as fast as I thought I was,” Payton said.
Coastal forced its second turnover three plays into the second half and quickly converted it into a touchdown to take a 26-7 lead. Sophomore safety Kameron Burton intercepted a Carter pass over the middle with pressure from Johnson forcing Carter to roll to his right. Burton returned it 13 yards to the Spartans 22 and Jacqez Hairston later scored on a 6-yard run.
The game was then delayed 44 minutes because of lightning in the area.
Immediately following the delay, Coastal drove 58 yards in 13 plays for a 1-yard Marable TD run after an 8-yard Hairston run for a fourth-and-1 conversion at the NSU 16. White’s second TD of the game on a 6-yard run with 13 minutes to play gave CCU a 39-7 lead, and a 7-yard touchdown reception by redshirt freshman receiver Jai Williams closed out the scoring.
Coastal travels to Massachusetts (0-3) next Saturday before beginning Sun Belt Conference play at Appalachian State on Sept. 28.