Football Defeats VMI 38-14 to Clinch Share of Big South Title
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CONWAY, S.C. -- No. 13 Coastal Carolina overcame a slow start by scoring on five consecutive possessions late in the first half and early in the second to post a 38-14 Homecoming victory over visiting VMI, Oct. 29. With their 11th consecutive home victory, the Chanticleers move to 7-1 on the year and 3-0 in the Big South Conference, while VMI falls to 3-6 and 2-2 in conference play. Coastal's 11th consecutive home win ties the league record, while its eighth consecutive league victory sets a new Big South record, surpassing the record of seven set by Gardner Webb during the 2002 and 2003 seasons.
The Keydets stopped Coastal on a fourth-and-1 at the CCU 47 and took over possession. Six plays later on third-and-9, quarterback Jonathan Wilson connected with wide receiver Gary Price for an 18-yard touchdown strike to put VMI up 7-0 with 2:29 to go in the first quarter.
Coastal finally got on the scoreboard late in the second quarter, taking advantage of a VMI miscue. On a Coastal punt, Brian Rousey (Mauldin,S.C./Mauldin) forced a VMI fumble that CCU's Shaun Gaines (Norwood, N.C./South Stanly) jumped on to give the Chanticleers possession at the VMI 34. Quarterback Tyler Thigpen (Winnsboro, S.C./Fairfield Central) wrapped up the six-play drive by going around the left side of the line for the one-yard touchdown and kicker Josh Hoke's (Statesville, N.C./West Iredell) extra point made is seven all with 3:32 to go in the first half.
Coastal then found a way late in the half to take a halftime lead. CCU got the ball with 1:24 to go and made quick work of it, going 70 yards in four plays, including a key roughing-the-passer penalty against VMI during the drive. Thigpen connected with wide receiver Jerome Simpson (Reidsville, N.C./Reidsville) for a 20-yard touchdown with 35 second to play in the half and CCU led 14-7 at the intermission.
The Chants got the ball to open the second half and went right at VMI, marching 66 plays in nine yards. Thigpen got in on a quarterback sneak from one-yard out and the extra point pushed the CCU advantage to 21-7 with 11:01 to go in the third.
CCU scored on the next drive as well, going 52 yards in eight plays over 3:16. Hoke's 21-yard field goal gave the Chanticleers a 24-7 margin with 5:28 remaining in the third.
Coastal then scored on its five consecutive possession to push its advantage. This time, the Chants went 63 yards in eight plays, capped off by freshman Arthur Sitton's (Goose Creek, S.C./Goose Creek) first collegiate touchdown on a four-yard run and CCU had a 31-7 lead with 35 seconds remaining in the third.
VMI came back in the fourth to cut into the margin, scoring with 10:10 to go in the game. Wilson scrambled out of danger and connected with wide receiver Zohn Burden for a 38-yard touchdown. The drive was 44 yards in two plays in just 13 seconds.
Thigpen would score his third rushing touchdown of the game with 1:28 left, scampering on a 77-yard run to give the Chants a 38-14 lead.
The Chanticleers had season-highs of 315 rushing yards and 472 yards of total offense. Coastal outgained VMI 472-294, limited VMI's rushing attack to just 39 yards on 35 attempts and sacked VMI’s Wilson six times.
Thigpen ran for a career-high 112 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries while going 10-for-18 for 157 yards and one touchdown through the air. Simpson had three receptions for 55 yards and one touchdown. For VMI, Burden had 98 receiving yards and one touchdown on four catches, while Wilson was 16-of-31 for 215 yards. Safety Robert Mason recorded a game-high 19 tackles for the Keydets.
Coastal will return to the field, Sat., Nov. 5, traveling to Savannah, Ga., to take on the Savannah State Tigers. Coastal defeated the Tigers last season, 52-17, and leads the overall series 2-0. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. VMI is at Richmond the same day with a 3 p.m. start.