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#21 Coastal Carolina used a big second half to turn this early season matchup of ranked teams into a blowout in a 51-32 win over the #25 ranked Eastern Kentucky University Colonels at Richmond. This was a game of runs. The Chanticleers came out swinging. They struck for touchdowns on both of their opening drives to claim a quick 14-0 lead. Senior running back Lorenzo Taliaferro was key as he scored both touchdowns, one on a 45 yard run.
The Colonels would answer quickly as EKU quarterback Jared McClain found tight end Nathan Watts unguarded on the Colonels sideline. Watts gathered in the pass and raced 70 yards for a touchdown to cut the Coastal Carolina lead to 14-7. The Colonel defense then got the first of what would be 3 consecutive stops and EKU kicker Andrew Lloyd banged home a 30 yard field goal to cut the Chants lead to 14-10.
Eastern was able to follow this up with a McClain to Devin Borders touchdown pass. When EKU defensive back Christian Albertson picked a fumble out of mid-air and returned it for a touchdown on the following Coastal Carolina drive the Colonels had scored 24 consecutive points and roared to a 24-14 lead.
EKU was able to get another stop on defense on the next drive and had an excellent chance to go up by 3 scores. Unfortunately it was the Chanticleers who would embark on a run of their own. This run would put the game away. It began when Coastal Carolina defensive back Samson Baldwin picked off a Jared McClain pass and returned it inside the Eastern Kentucky 10 yard line. Coast Carolina converted the turnover into a touchdown and then added a field goal when the Colonels fumbled on the ensuing kickoff after a nice return. By the time it ended the Chants had put up 37 straight points and raced to a 51-24 lead and the game was decided. The Colonels added a late touchdown and 2 point conversion but it was too little, too late.
The running game was the key to the Chanticleers victory, both their ability to run on the Colonels as well as their ability to stop Eastern on the ground. For the game Coastal Carolina rushed for 339 yards against the Colonels who entered the game allowing only 66.5 yards per game on the ground. Meanwhile the Chants were able to stop the Colonels ground game and force them into a lot of 3rd and longs.
While the final numbers show that Eastern rushed for 184 yards on 44 carries, 57 of that came on 2 scrambles by Colonel quarterbacks Jared McClain and Kyle Romano. Taking those two runs out drops the total to 127 yards on 42 carries for only 3.0 yards per carry. This put a lot of pressure on the Colonel passing game and it was not up to the task. McClain was able to complete only 15-34 passes for the night.
The loss concludes a home and home series that saw the visiting team win each of the games. This loss could be crucial to the Colonels playoff hopes if they are not able to win the conference and makes the matchup with Eastern Illinois in 2 weeks even more important. Eastern Kentucky will look to get back on track next week when they travel to winless Morehead State to take on the Eagles.
Photos courtesy Bob McKinley