Story and photo courtesy of Coastal Carolina Athletics
LEXINGTON, Va. – Coastal Carolina quarterback Aramis Hillary accounted for 172 yards in just over two quarters, while Jeremy Height led a potent rushing attack to give the Chanticleers a 34-7 victory at VMI Saturday. Coastal improves to 3-4, 1-1 in the Big South, while the Keydets drop to 2-5, 1-2.
Hillary only played one series in the third quarter before giving way to backup Alex Ross. Hillary, who has not thrown an interception in a CCU record 159 attempts, completed 11-of-19 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. On the ground, the senior rushed for 58 yards on 10 carries.
Height, who also sat most of the second half, finished with 97 yards on 12 attempts, averaging 8.1 yards per carry, including a 19-yard TD. Height’s effort helped Coastal rush for 331 yards on 49 attempts, an average of 6.8 yards per carry. The 331 rushing yards was the first 300-plus yard rushing game since gaining 304 versus North Carolina A&T in 2009, the most rushing yards since getting 490 versus Chowan in 2007 and the most in a Big South game since getting 332 versus Gardner-Webb in 2006.
Lorenzo Taliaferro added 54 rushing yards (6.8 average), Marcus Whitener – seeing his first action since the season opener due to injury – rushed for 45 yards (6.4 average), Travis Small rushed for 35 yards (7.0 average) and Ross rushed for 27 yards (5.4 average).
While Coastal’s offense was racking up the offensive statistics, the CCU defense was just as effective, holding VMI to jst 16 rushing yards and just 252 yards of total offense. However, 65 of those 252 yards, including 24 rushing yards, came on VMI’s final drive as the Keydets scored a touchdown with 32 seconds left to avoid the shutout.
Also, Coastal entered the game with only seven sacks through the first six games, but erupted for five on Saturday. Quinn Backus once again led CCU’s defense with a team-high nine tackles, including a sack, while Mike McClure had 1.5 sacks.
Coastal jumped out to a commanding lead, tallying 241 yards of total offense in the first quarter alone, thanks to 54 rushing yards by Height, 43 rushing yards by Hillary and Hillary throwing for 92 yards on 8-of-11 passing.
Coastal’s first drive stalled after a dropped pass, but the defense quickly gave the offense back the ball, forcing a Keydet punt. The Chants would not be stopped the second time around. Hillary completed a short pass to Height, who turned the play into a 15-yard gain. Hillary then had a long rush, which was shorted to a 20-yard gain due to a holding call putting the ball on the VMI 38. Hillary then gained 10 yard and, two play later, Height scored from 19 yards out for a 7-0 lead.
Coastal’s defense once again forced a VMI punt and eight plays and 86 yards later the Chants took a 14-0 lead. The big play in the drive was Hillary threading the needle for a a 27-yard gain to Akeem Wesley, tying Wesley’s career long. On the next play, Taliaferro bulled his way into the end zone for his second touchdown of the season.
Coastal opened the second quarter with another eight-play scoring drive, this one covering 63 yards. Hillary and Height combined for 53 yards rushing before Hillary found DeMario Bennett in the left corner of the end zone for a 10-yard TD and 21-0 CCU lead.
Coastal opened the second half scoring on special teams. VMI was forced to punt on the opening drive. On the play, walk-on and recent travel squad addition Tyler Watkins blocked the punt and Lorenzo Boyles carried the ball in from four yards out for his first career touchdown, giving Coastal a 28-0 lead.
In the fourth quarter, the Chants expanded their advantage to 31-0 as Alex Catron split the uprights from 30 yards out. With five minutes to play, Grant Clayton connected for a 29-yard field goal for a 34-0 lead.
Coastal Carolina will return to action next Saturday (Oct. 27) to host Liberty for Homecoming. Kickoff is set for 3:30 pm at Brooks. Stadium.