ORLANDO, FL (SPECIAL TO WLAF) – Caryville native Jamey Chadwell’s No. 9/11 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers lost a heartbreaking 37-34 overtime contest to Liberty at the sixth annual FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl as the Flames blocked a potential game-tying field goal to preserve the overtime victory at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.
After holding the Flames to a field goal on their overtime possession, the Chants threw three incomplete passes before Massimo Biscardi was called on to send the game into a second overtime. The Flames were able to get a defensive push up the middle of the line and get a hand up to knock down the 42-yard game-tying attempt.
The overtime was set up by a Joshua Mack fumble on the one-yard line with 41 seconds remaining in a tie game at 34-34, as Jeffrey Gunter knocked the ball out prior to Mack crossing the goal line for what would have been the go-ahead touchdown.
With their back up against their own end zone, the Chants were able to get the ball out to the 10-yard line before kneeling in the final seconds of regulation to send the game to overtime.
The loss ends Coastal Carolina’s season at 11-1 overall, while Liberty finished the year at 10-1. CCU’s 11 wins are the most since 2016 and the most in the program’s young four-year FBS history.
In what was a back-and-forth scoring contest over the final three quarters of play, the Chants totaled 483 yards of offense compared to Liberty’s 465 total yards. However, Liberty held the advantage in time of possession at 30:49 to 29:11 and in total plays with 71 to 65.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Grayson McCall led the Coastal offensive charge for the Chants, as he was 21-for-32 with 318 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception, while also rushing 15 times for 96 yards and a score.
Wide receiver Jaivon Heiligh set a new CCU single-game record with 13 receptions, breaking his own record of 12 set last season, and recorded a new career-high of 178 receiving yards. Both his receptions and receiving yards were new Cure Bowl records.
Adding to the offense on Saturday night was tight end Isaiah Likely with five catches for 84 yards and a score, while redshirt senior wideout Greg Latushko hauled in two catches for 48 yards, both of which were touchdowns.
For Liberty on offense, it was all Malik Willis, as the Cure Bowl MVP passed for 210 yards and two interceptions on 19-for-29 passing and ran 21 times for a game-high 137 yards and four scores.
Mack added 105 yards on the ground on 14 carries while DJ Stubbs (five catches, 68 yards) and Demario Douglas (five catches, 51 yards) each had five receptions each.
The Coastal defense was led by spur linebacker Enock Makonzo with a career-high 10 tackles, six of which were solo, and 1.5 tackles-for-loss, while redshirt senior linebacker Silas Kelly and redshirt junior bandit end Gunter finished with eight tackles each.
Safety Alex Spillum had seven tackles, an interception, and a fumble recovery, while Brayden Matts had five stops, one interception, and one pass breakup in the secondary.
The Flames’ defense was led by Aaron Butler with nine tackles, including 1.0 tackle-for-loss, and Javon Scruggs with eight stops, one interception, and a forced fumble.
The Chanticleers took the opening kick and drove to the Liberty 36-yard line, highlighted by a 22-yard pass from McCall to Heilgh, yet was stopped on a fourth-and-two to turn the ball over on downs.
Liberty’s offense fed off the fourth-down stop and answered with a 10-play, 64-yard, scoring drive led by Willis rushing for 14 yards and passing for 37 yards. The drive, which saw the Flames convert a fourth-and-two near midfield, was capped off by a five-yard touchdown run by Willis to put the team in white in front 7-0 with 6:59 to go in the opening quarter.
After a three-and-out halted the Chanticleers on their next offensive drive, the Flames again drove down the field, this time going 66 yards and nine plays in 5:18 to double their lead at 14-0 to close out the first quarter on a six-yard run by Willis.
While the offense again struggled to get things going, the “Black Swarm” defense came up with the first turnover of the game with an interception by Brayden Matts on the Flames’ third offensive series to stop Liberty and ignite the Coastal offense.
However, the offense was held out of the end zone as Biscardi knocked through a 21-yard field goal to put the Chants on the scoreboard and down 14-3 with six minutes left in the second quarter.
On the Chants’ next possession, CCU found the end zone for the first time on the night, as McCall connected with Likely across the middle from 25 yards out to cap a four-play, 62-yard drive to cut the Liberty lead to 14-10 with 2:02 left in the opening half.
The final two minutes saw the two teams’ trade field goals with CCU’s coming from 33-yards out as time expired on the first half to send the game to the halftime break at 17-14 in favor of the Flames.
Looking to add to their lead to start the second half, the Flames looked to have scored on a seven-yard pass to the front right pylon only to see Alex Spillum rip the ball away from the receiver for an interception in the end zone.
With the chance to go in front for the first time of the game, the CCU offense drove across midfield before McCall was picked off on a third-and-seven pass attempt and returned by the Liberty defender 59 yards to the Coastal 10-yard line.
The Flames scored on the very next play from scrimmage on a 10-yard run by Willis off a misdirection to push Liberty’s lead back out to double digits at 24-13 with 8:28 to go in the third quarter.
However, like they have done all season long, the Chants answered with a touchdown following an interception, as McCall flung a pass that sailed in the air for over 40 yards and into the arms of Latushko in the end zone for a 43-yard touchdown, the first of the career for Latushko.
The seven-play, 90-yard drive, which took just under four minutes, put the Chants within five at 24-19 after the two-point conversion failed.
The back-and-forth scoring carried over into the fourth quarter, as Liberty’s Willis found pay dirt again minutes into the final frame only to see the Chants quickly answer back less than three minutes later on a one-yard run by McCall.
The CCU drive, which went 77 yards on just five plays, was highlighted by a 45-yard pass and catch between McCall and Heiligh and a 24-yard grab across the middle by Likely to set up the one-yard score and put the Chants down 31-26 with 10:34 left in the contest.
The scoring continued with a 32-yard field goal by Alex Barbir on Liberty’s next series with the Flames’ drive going 61 yards, eating up 5:31 off the game clock, and pushing their lead to eight at 34-26 with 5:03 left in regulation.
Liberty left too much time on the clock for the CCU offense, as McCall led the Chants down the field, going 72 yards in seven plays to tie the game up at 34-34 on a two-point conversion.
On the drive, McCall connected with Heiligh for nine yards and then two plays later handed the ball off to CJ Marable for 12 yards and a first down.
Following a defensive pass interference and an incomplete pass, McCall scrambled for 21 yards for another Chanticleer first down.
A holding call on Liberty and back-to-back passes to Heiligh and Latushko ended the drive with the latter catching a five-yard pass for his second touchdown of the game.
On the two-point conversion, McCall kept the ball and turned up the field on the option play to find the end zone and knot the game up at 34-3 with 3:01 left on the game clock.
- Coastal finished the season at 11-1 overall, the most wins in the program’s FBS history.
- The Chanticleers are 0-1 all-time in FBS postseason bowls.
- With the loss, the Chants winning streak was snapped at 12 games dating back to last season.
- Coastal falls to 7-8 all-time versus Liberty on the gridiron with the loss.
- With the overtime defeat, Coastal is 6-6 all-time in overtime games in the program’s 18-year history.
- The Chanticleers were shut out in the first quarter of a game for the first time this season.
- Jaivon Heiligh set the Cure Bowl record for both receptions (13) and receiving yards (178 yards).
- Heiligh’s 13 catches were a new CCU program single-season record.
- Heiligh’s 178 receiving yards was a new career-high for the junior wideout.
- With his catch in the first quarter, senior CJ Marable extended his streak to 32-straight games with at least one reception.
- The third-quarter touchdown reception for Greg Latushko was the first of the redshirt senior’s career.
- Redshirt junior linebacker Enock Makonzo finished with a career-high 10 tackles. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 12/27/2020-8AM)