Game 553: Coastal Carolina defeats Georgia Southern, 28-17
Conway, SC – In our Game 553 between two Sunbelt bottom feeders playing without the head coaches they started their seasons with, the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (3-9, 2-6) defeated the Georgia Southern Eagles (2-10, 1-7), 28-17, at James C. Benton Field at Brooks Stadium near the Coastal Carolina campus. The teams battled into the third quarter, but the Chants’ defense came up with big stops in the final period to clip the Eagle’s ability to soar when they had to.
Why the heck are we at this game?
For Collegefootballfan.com, Brooks became our 144th stadium ever attended as a college football venue, and we added Coastal Carolina as our 131st, soon to be 130th (again) Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team ever. We can officially proclaim once again that, “we’ve seen ‘em all!” Next season, the Idaho Vandals rejoin the FCS for all the right reasons to reduce total FBS membership by one, but Liberty University located in Lynchburg, Virginia, will take their place stepping up to play in the FBS. Though our game 553 between the Chants and the Eagles featured two programs currently dwelling near the very bottom of the FBS rankings, as anticipated, they played in a competitive, evenly- matched game – our preference when planning out our schedules each season.
Fast start for Chanticleers
Coastal took the early lead on the second play from scrimmage when QB Kilton Anderson (9 of 17 for 180 yards, two TDs, 1 INT) connected with his primary WR Malcolm Williams on a post pattern over the middle for a 67-yard touchdown. GSU started its first possession from its own one as the return man slipped coming out of the end zone. Later in the first, the Eagles notched their first score putting up three with Kevin Bass’s 48-yard FG. Before the period ended, back up QB Dalton Demos, a grad transfer from Northern Iowa, tossed a pass to Ky’jon Taylor to put the ball at the three.
Two plays later, the first of the second period, RB Osharmar Abercrombie (19 carries, 133 yards, two TDs) took it over for the score to put the Myrtle Beach boys up, 14-3. The Eagles sacked Anderson to stop the next Chant series on a fourth and two to take over from their 26 late in the second. Bolstered by a nice catch for a key gain by RB Wes Fields at the CCU 46, the Eagles moved down to the one where TB L.A. Ramsby score to lower the margin, 14-10, before intermission.
Fellow college football fans
On the departure flight of my very affordable Saturday round trip from Atlantic City to Myrtle Beach on Spirit Airlines to add Coastal Carolina as FBS Team 130 in game 553, I sat with two other big college football fans, Larry and Pat, high school football coaches in Delaware, heading down to attend this clash between Sunbelt squads. The give-away right off was Larry’s Navy football jacket. His sons played at USNA under Paul Johnson. He has season tickets at Annapolis as well. Larry himself played for Delaware back in the ‘70s, and Pat played for Ursinus, a D-3 nemesis of the alma mater, Juniata, when both schools played in the Middle Athletic Conference. Both coaches played for CCU HC Joe Moglia early in his career. They’ve maintained a close relationship with him ever since. They filled me in on something that I hadn’t heard about. Moglia, a very successful coach who had this program winning often at the FCS level to step up into the FBS, sidelined himself right from the start of the season due to an irritable lung infection. That explained my surprise regarding Coastal’s poorer than expected start at 2-9 in their first season of FBS football.
CCU’s Head Coach Joe Moglia
A little background here: Joe Moglia coached high school and college football successfully for 16 years. In 1984, he made a career change by entering the MBA training program for Merrill Lynch. After graduation, he became their most productive asset manager leading to a major career move to become CEO for the investment service, TD Ameritrade. For seven years, he led that firm to great success increasing its client’s wealth to over $10 billion, a 500 percent return. After that run, he stepped down and became Chairman of the Board for TDA. After great success in business, here returned to coaching college football in 2009. Moglia served as executive advisor to the Nebraska Cornhusker football program helping administer two Big 12 North championships. He left to take over the Chanticleer program in 2012.
Since he became HC at Coastal, his teams have racked up a record of 51-15. At Brooks Stadium prior to the game, his recorded message on the video board confirmed what Larry and Pat told me. He tells the Coastal Carolina fandom that his life is not in danger, but that he has to address his breathing problems. He emphasizes that he wants to do this now to assure his health for the long-term so that he can continue as HC of the Chanticleers for many years to come. In the meantime, he’s appointed offensive coordinator Jamey Chadwell, up until last year the HC of a successful Charleston Southern program, as his interim HC. Joe Moglia plans to return to the sideline next season at full strength to continue to coach and make the Chants a competitive program at the FBS level. Based on his success in his diverse endeavors over the course of his careers, we definitely want to attend more CCU games in the future to see the progress he can bring to this burgeoning program.
Plight of the GSU Eagles
As for the GSU Eagles, after an 0-5 start to this season, the school’s administration released HC Tyson Summers from the program and replaced him with interim HC Chad Lunsford. Over the years, GSU has been ranked among the top programs in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). They even got off to a great FBS start when they moved up in 2014 going 9-3 and winning the Sunbelt title with a record of 8-0. For some inexplicable reason, they were not eligible to go to a bowl game despite winning the conference championship. Over those years, they ran a very successful triple option offense under Paul Johnson who left after 2001 to turn Navy’s football fortune’s around before moving on to Georgia Tech. When joining the Sun Belt, the Eagles success with the triple option continued with HC Jeff Moncken who learned the offense while at Navy working for Johnson. Since leaving Georgia Southern, he left and has successfully turned the corner at Army leading the Cadets to two consecutive winning seasons for the first time in years.
Summers’s change in offensive strategy away from this offense that brought much success did not sit well with the school’s admin based on his very poor results. The school will now be looking for someone to turn their program around using most likely that same offensive strategy that made them an FCS powerhouse. In the annals of our history leading up to Game 553, Georgia Southern won one of four games we’d seen them play – winning a 2001 playoff game vs. Appy State, losing twice to Delaware, one in a 2002 regular season game and then again in a 2010 playoff before losing to Navy in a 52-19 thrashing in 2014.
Second half tease
To start Q3, Miles Campbell returned the kick out to CCU’s 48. The Eagles finished a scoring drive with an eight-yard pass from QB Shai Werts to TE Ellis Richardson to make this a competitive game by taking the lead, 17-14. Werts, a redshirt freshman, led his team in passing (6 of 15 passes for 57 yards, one Td, one INT), in passing (28 carries for 108 yards) and even in receiving yards (one catch for 30 yards. Despite the low number in the passing game, we can say that we can’t recall anybody else lay claim to that. Whoever takes over this program as HC has an experienced triple option QB with some opportunity to get better over the next three years. This turnaround seemed to that this game would be played fiercely to the end by two inspired teams looking to end bad seasons on a positive note for next year. Next, GSU forced a CCU punt from their 43, but the turning point of the game occurred when Abercrombie took the snap directly in punt formation and powered for 19 yards for a first down to maintain possession. Anderson connected with Williams (four receptions, 120 yards, two TDs) for a 37-yard TD pass to take back the lead, 21-17. The Chants forced the Eagles to punt from their 27. On the legs of Abercrombie, a 41-yard burst put the Chants at the one where Abercrombie finished off what he started to extend the home team’s lead, 28-17.
CCU rises to the challenge
The score stagnated in in the fourth primarily due to CCU’s defensive efforts. The Chant’s stopped Werts on downs at their 37. Two series later, CB Preston Carey picked off a Werts pass at his 24. The Chanticleer D halted GSU’s final drive at their 29 on fourth down with 1:29 left to play to preserve their third victory of the season. Both teams showed potential but have lot of work cut out for them as other teams in this conference are making great strides toward improvement.
Evidently, both teams are done for the season. As Pat and Larry told me, if Moglia is feeling better, the Chant’s might be out practicing that evening. I’m sure, however, that like most programs this staff is back out on the recruiting trail as we speak. As for Georgia Southern, there is probably a meeting with Lunsford and the rest of the coaches right away to determine their status in the short-term to continue some recruiting while planning to announce who their next HC will be.
More to come…
For CFF.com, our task following Game 553 is easier. We are preparing for a tailgate next Saturday for the greatest rivalry in all of college football when Army (9-2) and Navy (6-5) clash for the 118th time. The Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy is at stake at the Linc in Philadelphia before both go on to play in bowl games against San Diego State and Virginia respectively. These two teams have lot of pride and incentive heading into the now annual finale of college football’s regular season. This will be our 12th time in attendance for this game. We look forward to this and some playoff action at the D-3 and possibly FCS level the weekend after. Check us out!