Coastal Carolina

CCU Football Notebook: What Coastal hopes to accomplish during its upcoming open date

For the second time in four weeks, Coastal Carolina is going into an open date off a loss.

The Chanticleers’ 30-27 triple-overtime loss at Georgia Southern that was played through driving rain from the Nestor tropical system on Saturday was their third consecutive defeat.

The losing streak began with a 56-37 loss at Appalachian State on Sept. 28, and continued following an open date with a 31-21 loss to Georgia State in Conway on Oct. 12 and Saturday’s loss at Allen E. Paulson Stadium.

“It’s definitely tougher to go into a bye week with a loss,” senior nose tackle Sterling Johnson said. “Because the way I’ve always viewed bye weeks is like, ‘All right, you get the win the week before, the next week you fix all your mistakes, you get the young guys ready for next [game] and really take the time to use a bye week for what it’s for instead of, ‘Man we’ve got this loss in our taste still.’”

Coastal (3-4, 0-3 Sun Belt Conference) is back in action on Nov. 2 against Troy on Homecoming at Brooks Stadium, seeking to end a seven-game losing streak in Sun Belt Conference play.

“We’re trying to find ourselves,” CCU head coach Jamey Chadwell said. “We’re getting better but it is frustrating and disappointing because you know what the players put into it to try to get a win. That’s tough, but I’m really trying to make sure they keep an eye on the big picture and not get caught up in just the winning and losing. You’ve got to look at what we’re trying to do and how we’re trying to do it.

“If I keep that then you won’t stay disappointed for long, you’ll keep coming back to try to hopefully win some games.”

Following the Troy game, Coastal has a short week of preparation because it hosts Louisiana at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, then travels to Arkansas State and Louisiana-Monroe before concluding the regular season at home against Texas State on Nov. 30.

“This open week we’ll just try to get over the loss, try to fix some things we need to fix and hopefully play better the last five games,” Chadwell said. “We’ve still got a lot of games left.”

Bizarre ejections

The Chants got redshirt sophomore guard Seth Harrell and Johnson back from injury Saturday. Johnson missed one game and Harrell four games with a leg injury.

Harrell didn’t make it through the entire game, however, as he was ejected along with wide receiver T’Qele Holmes and Georgia Southern linebacker Jay Bowdry when they each got their second unsportsmanlike or personal foul penalties of the game at the end of the third quarter.

With both teams facing each other on the field and jumping up and down to the music being played over the stadium speakers between the third and fourth quarters, officials threw flags and assessed every player in the game unsportsmanlike penalties.

That caused the ejections of the three players who had no leeway remaining. Harrell picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the first play from scrimmage.

“I have never seen that,” Chadwell said. “That was a big deal because we got [Harrell] back finally and he got ejected going into the fourth quarter and missed most of the game in the second half. . . . That’s how they did it. At that point there’s nothing you can argue.”

More losses

Though Harrell and Johnson returned, Coastal sophomore quarterback Fred Payton missed the game with an apparent shoulder injury and the Chants lost senior cornerback Chandler Kryst, who has three interceptions this season, and redshirt freshman linebacker Cincir Evans to injuries during Saturday’s game.

CCU was already playing without several players due to injury or illness over the past couple games including starting linebacker Silas Kelly, starting safety Enock Makonzo, backup linebacker Jamar Darboe and backup running back Reese White due to injury or illness.

Coastal lost freshman receiver Aaron Bedgood for the rest of the season after he was injured last week against Georgia State. He had eight receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown and four carries for 60 yards.

“We’re banged up obviously so any time you can get a week off and hopefully get some people back that would be great,” Chadwell said. “I don’t know if we’re going to get them back anyway.”

The doo-doo caper

Redshirt junior quarterback Shai Werts led Georgia Southern to Saturday’s win with a pair of overtime touchdown passes and 48 yards on 13 carries while running the Eagles’ pistol triple-option offense.

The Clinton native and Newberry High graduate has been the Eagles’ starting QB since his redshirt freshman season.

But his coaches and teammates weren’t sure he’d be their quarterback this season at the beginning of preseason camp because of a bizarre arrest that occurred as he was on his way to Statesboro, Ga., for the first practice.

Werts was pulled over for speeding on July 31 by a Saluda County Sheriff’s Office deputy, who scraped samples of a white powdery substance from the hood of Werts’ 2016 silver Dodge Charger and did a pair of sample field tests for cocaine.

The officer is heard on a police video telling Werts: “If it turns pink or blue that means it’s positive for cocaine. It don’t just turn positive out of nowhere.”

After Werts contends on the video that the substance is bird poop, the officer responds, “It looks nothing like bird poop man. We know what bird poop looks like.”

Werts continued to contend the substance wasn’t cocaine, explaining he tried to clean it off his car with a windshield washer at a gas station the previous night and it spread, saying at one point, “Can I tell you something? That’s bird [poop].”

The officer says in the video he is arresting Werts for failure to stop for blue lights after he says he clocked him doing 80 mph, and he collected more samples for testing.

Werts contends on the video that he called police while being followed by the police car with its lights flashing and told the dispatcher that he didn’t want to stop until he got to an area that was well lit. The officer acknowledges in the video that he is aware the call was made.

Werts had a misdemeanor cocaine possession dropped a week later after Saluda County (S.C.) Deputy Solicitor Al Eargle told The Savannah Morning News that South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) tests showed that no controlled substance was present in the samples.

“When it went down with Shai it was something that was totally out of character for what this kid has shown since he’s been here and even during recruiting – great character kid, great teammate, great person. So it didn’t add up,” said Georgia Southern head coach Chad Lunsford, who said the program will always seek the full story while adhering to athletic department policies when a player is accused of something. “Obviously we had his back and as the story started to unfold and started to be told he was wrongly accused.”

Redshirt freshman Justin Tomlin is Werts’ backup, and Lunsford said the team was prepared to rally around him if it was needed.

“Their starting quarterback’s status was up in the air, but I did think they did a good job of being mentally strong and getting behind Justin Tomlin and saying, ‘OK, if Justin’s got to be the guy he’s going to be the guy,’ ” Lunsford said. “Going into the season you’re thinking Shai Werts is going to be your quarterback. So obviously that is going to have an effect on you and your team, but when it all played out in Shai’s favor obviously that ended up being a good thing for our football team.”

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Alan Blondin covers golf, Coastal Carolina athletics and numerous other sports-related topics that warrant coverage. Well-versed in all things Myrtle Beach, Horry County and the Grand Strand, the Northeastern University journalism school valedictorian has been a sports reporter at The Sun News since 1993, earning eight top-10 Associated Press Sports Editors national writing awards and 18 top-three S.C. Press Association writing awards since 2007.
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