Coastal Carolina hit a milestone Saturday with its 200th game as a football program.
The Chanticleers began playing in 2003, and their 36-35 win over Troy at Brooks Stadium improved their all-time record to 126-74.
“I think it shows you the potential of this university and the potential of this football program, what it can be and what it will be,” said Jamey Chadwell, the Chants’ third head coach. “It’s got a chance to be something very special and I’m excited to be a part of that and help build towards that.”
Coastal was 114-54 as a Football Championship Subdivision program and is 12-20 in its three seasons since moving up to the Football Bowl Subdivision level.
“It’s not a lot of games if you think about it from a big picture,” Chadwell said. “We’re playing teams that have had programs for a long time.”
Coastal went 63-39 in nine years under coach David Bennett, 56-22 in six years under Joe Moglia and is now 7-13 under Chadwell, including a 3-9 mark in 2017 when the Chants made their FBS debut and Chadwell was the interim coach for Moglia, who took a medical sabbatical that season.
The Chants were ranked No. 1 in FCS for 10 combined weeks in 2014 and 2015 and became a perennial FCS playoff team with four consecutive playoff appearances from 2012-15.
They are 4-4 this season after snapping a seven-game losing streak Saturday in Sun Belt Conference games. The Chants need two more wins to become bowl eligible for the first time. They were within a game of the six-win requirement at 5-3 last season before losing their final four games.
“We still have an opportunity to try to get to the magic number,” Chadwell said. “We’ve got four games and we’re capable of winning all four. We’re also capable of losing all four. But it gets us one step closer.”
Coastal will have just four days off between games as the Chants host Louisiana-Lafayette at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in a game that will be televised nationally on ESPNU.
The team will watch film on Sunday and will have a walk-through practice Sunday evening, Chadwell said. With an open date last weekend, the Chants spent two days early last week preparing for Louisiana before focusing on Troy for a week and a half, so the team is already familiar with the game plan against the Ragin’ Cajuns.
“We laid a little foundation so we’ll reintroduce that plan to them Sunday night,” Chadwell said. “When you have a short week like this you really try to focus on what you can do and not try to get too fancy.
“. . . They’re a really good team. They’re arguably the most talented team in the league. So it’s a huge challenge for us especially on a short week, but we’ll be up for it.”
CCU redshirt freshman linebacker Cincir Evans was taken from the stadium via ambulance after apparently being knocked out in the second quarter. He was hit in the head by teammate C.J. Brewer as the two converged on Troy quarterback Kaleb Barker for a sack.
Evans was face-down on the turf for several minutes before he was carefully placed on a stretcher. Paramedics at the scene said Evans was conscious and talking as he was taken to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center, where he underwent precautionary tests.
According to Coastal’s sports information department and Chadwell, he had feeling in all extremities, and he was back with the team in time to celebrate the win in the locker room.
“Everything extremity-wise was fine,” Chadwell said. “It looks like the signs of a concussion-type injury, and that he avoided a major injury to his neck, which is a blessing.”
Coastal managed to defeat one of the top passing offenses in the country that had a typically explosive performance.
Barker, a senior who was coming off a 421-yard passing game against Georgia State and has a career high of more than 500 yards in a game, was on fire early Saturday.
In the game’s opening 20 minutes he completed 13 of 14 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown. He was stifled by the CCU defense for the next 22-plus minutes – going 1 for his next 7 for a loss of a yard – before getting hot again in the third and fourth quarters, completing 10 of 11 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns over three drives.
He finished 26 of 35 for 385 yards and three touchdowns and was sacked four times.
“That first quarter they were really moving it on us so we settled in, locked into our jobs, forgot about the mistakes and kept playing,” said redshirt sophomore safety Alex Spillum, who had a season-high 10 total tackles and said the defense switched between man-to-man and zone defenses throughout the game. “Our coaches made some adjustments and we listened to them and executed them.”
Kaylon Geiger recorded 12 receptions for a career-high 145 yards and a touchdown to record his fourth 100-yard game of the season and the Trojans’ 10th by a receiver, which leads the nation.
The Chants are singing the victory song in the locker room and celebrating each win this year with a game-specific trophy, so after a three-game absence a trophy made its appearance in the locker room after the game – in this case a sword to reward a victory over the Troy Trojans.
“That was awesome to finally be able to do that after a couple weeks,” Carpenter said. “We were itching to be able to do that so that was awesome to be able to do that tonight. . . . I think it’s something we added that the guys look forward to so I think it’s pretty cool.”