Special to College Sports Journal
Editor’s note: This story is courtesy of The Citadel and Coastal Carolina athletics.
CONWAY, S.C. — The Citadel’s Eric Goins kicked a 43-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Bulldogs past Coastal Carolina, 41-38, in the opening round of the 2015 NCAA Division I football playoffs Saturday at Brooks Stadium.
The winning kick came after Goins had missed one field goal early and had a fourth-quarter kick on the previous Citadel drive blocked.
The Bulldogs, coming off last week’s 23-22 upset of FBS South Carolina, earned its first FCS playoff game since 1992 when it was the top seed in the Football Champiosnhip Subdivision playoffs.
The Citadel had three 100-yard rushers, led by sophomore quarterback Dominque Allen’s career-high 174 with two touchdowns. Junior B-Back Tyler Renew registered his third straight 100-yard game with 129 yards and one touchdown, and sophomore A-Back Cam Jackson added 113 yards and one touchdown.
Defensively, the Bulldogs forced four turnovers. Sophomore Kailik Williams grabbed an interception and recovered a fumble, and fellow sophomore Shy Phillips grabbed an interception. Senior Mitchell Jeter recovered a fumble forced by Tevin Floyd on the final defensive play of the game for The Citadel.
The Bulldogs jumped out to an early 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the first quarter after a six-yard touchdown run by Jackson. The drive started at the Chanticleers’ 11-yard line after Williams picked off the pass at the 39-yard line and returned it 28 yards, setting up the three-play scoring drive.
Coastal Carolina answered on its following possession with a 91-yard touchdown pass to even the score at 7-7.
On The Citadel’s next possession, Renew continued to tear defenses apart on the ground and recorded his first touchdown of the day with 5:56 left on the clock in the first quarter. The score would give the Bulldogs their second lead of the day after starting the drive on the CCU 25-yard line.
The Chanticleers answered with a touchdown of their own to begin the second quarter after converting on a 26-yard pass to even the score at 14-14 with 13:20 left.
After Eric Goins missed a 47-yard field goal with 8:05 left in the second quarter, Coastal Carolina took its first lead of the day after a 44-yard touchdown run. The score was a result of a four-play, 44-yard drive to make it 21-14 with 6:49 left in the half. The Chanticleers would retain the seven-point lead heading into the halftime break.
The Citadel opened up the scoring in the second half with a 10-play, 75-yard drive that was capped with an Allen rushing touchdown from six yards out to tie the contest again at 21-21. The rushing touchdown was the 40th of the season for The Citadel, the second-highest single-season total in program history.
The game continued to be a back-and-forth affair after CCU recorded its third touchdown pass of the day, this time from 16 yards out to make it 28-21 with 8:47 left in the third quarter. That would be the last points the Bulldogs defense would allow for the next 13 minutes.
Allen responded with his second touchdown run of the day from one-yard out to tie the game yet again 28-28.
The Bulldogs’ defense came up with a huge stop with 3:26 remaining in the third quarter. Mitchell Jeter forced CCU to fumble on the 24-yard line and Williams recovered the ball before returning in four yards to The Citadel 30-yard line. 11 plays and 38 yards later, Eric Goins nailed a career-long 49-yard field goal to give the Bulldogs a 31-28 lead with 13:54 remaining in the fourth quarter. The 49-yard kick is tied for the eighth-longest made field goal in school history.
Just 48 seconds later, Shy Phillips gave The Citadel its biggest lead of the day after a 32-yard pick six made the score 38-28 with 13:06 remaining in the game. The interception returned for a touchdown is the fifth for the year for the Bulldogs, which is the most in FCS.
Coastal Carolina answered with 10 points of its own on its next possessions after a sack by Mark Thomas forced the Chanticleers to kick a 26-yard field goal and then a 16-yard rush with 5:38 left tied the score at 38-38.
The Citadel had a field goal attempted from the 47 blocked by Coastal’s Marcus Williamson at the Coastal 30 with no gain.
Coastal began their drive start at their own 30 with a pass from Ross completed to Jones for a 14 yard gain. Followed by a three yard pass gain with a Ross to Abercrombie connection.
After a blocked field goal with less than two minutes remaining gave Coastal Carolina the ball, Tevin Floyd came up with a huge strip sack and Mitchell Jeter recovered to give the Bulldogs the ball at the 41-yard line with 44 seconds left in the game.
After three running plays, Goins would attempt the game-winning field goal again this time from 43 yards out. The senior would have no trouble as he nailed the kick to give The Citadel the win over Coastal Carolina 41-38.
The Bulldogs will now travel to Charleston Southern on Saturday for a rematch of the Sept. 26 game. The game is slated to kick off at 1 p.m. at Buccaneer Field.
The loss ends the Chanticleers’ season at 9-3, while The Citadel improved to 9-3 and will face cross-town rival Charleston Southern in the tournament’s second round on Dec. 5.
The Citadel finished with 524 of its 556 total yards on the ground.
Ross set CCU single-game records for passing yards (415) and yards of total offense (454) while setting CCU and Big South records with a 91-yard touchdown pass.
Ross connected with Bruce Mapp for a 91-yard touchdown. It marked the longest pass play in both CCU and Big South history (previous CCU long being an 86-yard Ross to DeMario Bennett pass in the 2013 NCAA FCS playoff win at Montana and surpassed the 90-yard VMI pass play from Kyle Hushes to Zach Collins versus Coastal Carolina in 2008).
It was additionally the sixth-longest scoring play overall for the Chants.