Coastal Carolina scored nine touchdowns to come within one of a school record and amassed 636 yards of offense Saturday in a 62-28 dismantling of Massachusetts at McGuirk Alumni Stadium in Amherst, Mass.
The Chants beat up on a rebuilding UMass program that is struggling with one of the worst defenses in the country, completing 89 percent of their passes, rushing for 334 yards and gaining nearly 9 yards per play.
Both junior running back C.J. Marable and sophomore quarterback Bryce Carpenter gained 100 yards rushing, Carpenter added a pair of TD passes, sophomore quarterback Fred Payton completed 16 of 18 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown, and 10 Chants caught passes.
“We were better than them, and that was my challenge was, ‘Hey, we’re better than this team right now, are we going to show that?’ “ Coastal head coach Jamey Chadwell told WRNN 99.5 FM radio. “And I thought our guys did a good job of that. . . . I’m pleased overall with the win and pleased with the mindset we did show up to the game with.”
The game was essentially decided in the first half, as Coastal scored on six of seven first-half possessions to take a 42-14 lead into halftime, with the exception being a Payton interception that led to a UMass score. The Chants slowed the pace to run some clock in the second half.
Coastal (3-1) won the coin toss and accepted the ball to start the game, and offering a glimpse of things to come the Chants drove 91 yards in 10 plays and 4:49 to score on a 10-yard Marable run.
The drive included Payton passes of 12 and 14 yards to tight ends Isaiah Likely and Shadell Bell and 21 yards to freshman receiver Aaron Bedgood.
Tyris Lebeau intercepted a Payton pass at the CCU 25-yard line and returned it to the CCU 12, leading to a Bilal Ally 5-yard touchdown run to tie the game with 4 minutes left in the first quarter.
The Chants took a 14-7 lead late in the first quarter on an 18-yard Marable run on an option pitch to the left side from Payton to cap a seven-play, 65-yard drive.
CCU took a 21-7 lead on a 24-yard Carpenter pass to freshman running back Reese White, who ran a wheel route against a linebacker after a fake handoff in the backfield. A 32-yard Marable reception on a swing pass set up the score.
Isaiah Rodgers’ 43-yard kickoff return to the CCU 46 set up a 5-yard TD run by Ally that cut the CCU lead to 21-14. UMass converted a third-and-14 at the CCU 38 with a 20-yard pass and also converted a fourth-and-1 on the drive.
But CCU scored the next five touchdowns to build a 56-14 lead midway through the third quarter.
Jacqez Hairston reestablished CCU’s 14-point lead with a 2-yard run that capped a four-play, 75-yard drive that consisted entirely of big plays – a 23-yard T’Qele Holmes catch, 19-yard Bedgood reception on an inside end-around and 31-yard run by Hairston.
Hairston scored on a 1-yard run and Jaivon Heiligh scored on a 5-yard pass from Payton with 20 seconds remaining in the first half to put CCU up 42-14. An interception by redshirt freshman linebacker Cincir Evans off a tipped pass by defensive lineman Tarron Jackson set CCU up for its fifth score.
In the first half, Payton was 17 of 19 for 235 yards and a touchdown, Marable had 100 rushing yards and two scores on 13 carries – giving him his third consecutive 100-yard rushing game – and Hairston had two rushing TDs.
The Chants continued the onslaught early in the second half. After forcing a UMass punt on the opening possession, a 45-yard scramble by Carpenter led to a 13-yard TD reception by Bedgood on another inside pass on an end-around.
Redshirt sophomore Anthony McAfee of Myrtle Beach and Carolina Forest High scored Coastal’s final touchdown on an 8-yard run.
In addition to gaining 102 yards on 12 carries in CCU’s two-QB system, Carpenter was 7 of 8 passing for 104 yards, and the Chants completed 24 of 27 attempts for 302 yards, often to receivers running open.
“I thought when the throws were there to be made we made them,” Chadwell said. “. . . We know we have to be better, we have to be balanced, and balanced in different ways. Not by yardage or the number of throws, just making sure that we’re not where people say we’re one-dimensional and can’t make passes. We improved there and we’re going to have to continue to do that if we’re going to have a chance to play well in these next eight conference games.”
Coastal’s 636 yards of offense are the fifth-most in a game in school history and within 54 of the school-record 690 the Chants gained against Charlotte in 2014.
Under first-year head coach Walt Bell, who was the offensive coordinator at Florida State last season, UMass is 0-4 and has been outscored 207-86 by CCU, Rutgers, Charlotte and FCS program Southern Illinois, and has allowed at least 45 points in each game.
The Minutemen managed 329 yards of offense on 73 plays to become the first CCU opponent this season to surpass 300 yards.
Perhaps the lone area of concern for CCU coming out of Saturday’s game is special teams. The Chants allowed a 28-yard run on a fake punt on fourth-and-15 in the first quarter, Rodgers amassed 240 yards on six kickoff returns for a 40-yard average, and sophomore kicker Massimo Biscardi also missed his second extra point of the season in the fourth quarter.
“[With] our kickoff coverage they started every drive it seemed inside the 40-yard line,” Chadwell said. “For us to give up 28 with where they started the ball was actually a pretty decent day. It may not look like it stat-wise overall because it’s the most yardage we’ve given up in a while.”
Coastal begins Sun Belt Conference play next Saturday at Appalachian State.