By Myron Hosea
CSN South Columnist
While Appalachian State was rolling to another outright Southern Conference championship – and the automatic qualifier spot that accompanies it – the Big South Conference surprisingly found itself with a three-team race.
Coastal Carolina has rallied on the outside to catch expected leaders Stony Brook and Liberty for a sprint to the finish line and a shot at the Big South crown and the league’s first automatic qualifier spot in the playoffs.
The Chanticleers upset Liberty 45-31 to tie the Flames at 4-1 for second place – for now – in the Big South. Stony Brook stayed perfect – for now – with a 55-3 drubbing of Gardner-Webb.
The season finale between Stony Brook and Liberty in Lynchburg, Va., still bears the decision factor everyone expected, but now Coastal Carolina’s home game with Charleston Southern weighs in as well.
Stony Brook can settle things by beating Liberty. In that case, the Seawolves will have the title and the playoff bid.
The Flames can get the playoff spot if they beat the Seawolves and if Charleston Southern knocks off Coastal Carolina.
The Chanticleers, meanwhile, must win to have a shot. They also need Liberty to win – big.
If there’s a three-way tie, the conference’s fourth level of tiebreakers will be used.
So if Coastal Carolina, Liberty and Stony Brook all finish 5-1, the team that has allowed the fewest points in Big South games gets the nod.
Stony Brook has a big lead in that category (68 points allowed compared with 106 for the Chanticleers and 110 for the Flames).
In the SoCon, Appalachian State takes its conference crown to the Sunshine State for a meeting with the Florida Gators.
That doesn’t mean the drama is done in the SoCon.
Chattanooga visits Wofford for a battle for second place in the league. If the Mocs win, they will finish in a tie with the Terriers but will have the head-to-head advantage.
Also, Georgia Southern and Furman will play an intriguing contest in Greenville, S.C.
If the Eagles win and the Mocs lose, it will be interesting to see whether the NCAA invites three SoCon teams as many people expect, and if they do, will it be Chattanooga or Georgia Southern.
Furman is out of playoff contention but will be motivated to avoid a losing season by eliminating its rival’s playoff chances.
Review of Games of Nov. 13
Big South Conference
Coastal Carolina 45, Liberty 31
Coastal Carolina delivered one of its best offensive performances in some time by stunning Liberty at home, 45-31.
Quarterback Zach MacDowall tied his own school record of 382 passing yards, throwing three touchdown passes and running for another. He completed 25-of-27 passes.
Eric O’Neal added 102 yards and a touchdown rushing. Matt Hazel caught three touchdown passes.
The Chanticleers’ offensive prowess showed in their long drives. In the first half, Coastal Carolina scored on drives of 72, 70, 80 and 85 yards.
Liberty got its usual efforts from Mike Brown (274 yards and two touchdowns passing, 71 yards and a touchdown rushing) and Chris Summers (seven catches, 127 yards, one touchdown).
The Flames drove 61 yards late in the game to the Chanticleers six with an opportunity to cut the lead to 38-31, but their fourth-down effort failed.
Coastal Carolina – behind O’Neal’s 34-yard run and a 36-yard pass from MacDowall to Brandon Whitley (eight catches, 144 yards) – went back downfield to ice the game.
Stony Brook 55, Gardner-Webb 3
Stony Brook benefited from seven Gardner-Webb turnovers – converting six of them into 34 points – to roll to a 55-3 home victory.
Freshman defensive back Davonte Anderson set a school record with four interceptions.
Brock Jackolski ran for 131 yards and produced 256 all-purpose yards. He scored three touchdowns three different ways (rushing, receiving, and kickoff return). S
Stephen Schwicke returned a fumble 42 yards for a score.
Gardner-Webb running back Patrick Hall ran 26 times for 137 yards while James Perry III caught nine passes for 90 yards.
Charleston Southern 42, Presbyterian 39
Charleston Southern held off a Presbyterian College fourth-quarter rally to stop a six-game losing streak with a 42-39 home win.
The Blue Hose scored the game’s first 14 points – on two touchdown runs by Trandon Dendy (26 rushes, 105 yards) – and its final 15 points, but the Bucs dominated in between.
PC actually led in total offense 492 to 370. In the fourth, Blue Hose quarterback Ryan Singer (six carries, 86 yards) threw a touchdown pass and ran for one.
Demarcus Moon (77 yards), Malcolm Dixon (62 yards), and Gerald Stevenson (46 yards) paced Charleston Southern’s rushing attack. Dixon also threw four touchdowns passes in his eight completions.
Old Dominion 45, VMI 28
Old Dominion scored 31 straight points to overcome VMI’s early lead and defeat the traveling Keydets 45-28.
T. J. Talley caught a pair of touchdown passes, and Chaz Jones ran 16 times for 114 yards and a touchdown to lead VMI.
Linebacker A. J. Gross had 16 total tackles and a sack. The Monarchs turned four VMI turnovers into touchdowns.
Appalachian State 43, Wofford 13
Appalachian State dominated the showdown for the SoCon title from the opening kickoff and defeated Wofford before 28,622 43-13 at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
The Mountaineer defense proved so stout that Wofford’s first eight offensive possessions – which stretched into the third quarter – mustered only 25 plays and 35 yards.
Wofford managed two first downs on its first possession and didn't pick up another one until late in the second half as the Mountaineers built a 38-0 lead.
ASU held the Terrier rushing attack, tops in the country, more than 130 yards below its season average. Most of the yards came after the game was decided.
Appalachian State running back Devon Moore rushed for three touchdowns and 115 yards on 17 carries, garnering his first 100-yard ground performance of the seaon.
DeAndre Presley completed 17-of-26 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns. The Mountaineers turned three Wofford turnovers into touchdowns.
Chattanooga 48, Samford 14
Chattanooga stayed in the playoff hunt with a 48-14 whipping of Samford at home.
B. J. Coleman completed just 12 passes in 20 attempts, but those completions produced 319 yards and four touchdowns.
Brian Sutherland caught three of the scores and five passes overall for 167 yards. Erroll Wynn rushed for 101 yards on 21 carries while Keon Williams added 80 yards on 13 carries.
The Mocs defense held the Bulldogs to 70 yards on the ground and 232 overall. Jordan Tippit accounted for one Chattanooga score when he returned an interception 66 yards for a touchdown.
Georgia Southern 28, Western Carolina 6
Georgia Southern also kept its name in the playoff picture with a 28-6 win at Western Carolina.
The Eagles were efficient, scoring one touchdown in each quarter. GSU held the Catamounts scoreless over the final three periods after allowing Blake Bostic’s 36- and 38-yard field goals in the opening quarter.
Georgia Southern running back Robert Brown rushed 17 times for 153 yards and a touchdown.
Zac Brindise threw for 191 yards for Western Carolina but suffered three picks and three sacks.
Eagles defensive lineman Brent Russell had seven total tackles, 3.5 for loss. Western Carolina’s Chris Everett made seven solo tackles and forced a fumble.
Elon 30, Furman 25
Elon overcame a Furman rally in the fourth quarter to beat the Paladins 30-25.
The Phoenix led 24-10 after three quarters, but the Paladins rallied to take a 25-24 lead with 8:57 to go.
Cody Worley threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Culbreath, Shawn Boone made a safety, and Tersoo Uhaa ran for a four-yard score to put Furman ahead.
Elon, however, had Scott Riddle back behind center. Though he played with an injured left shoulder, Riddle set a new FCS all-time pass completion mark (he has 1,143) and helped the Phoenix rally for the win.
A. J. Harris (15 carries, 103 yards, two touchdowns) scored the winning touchdown with 5:21 to go in the game. Riddle completed 31-of-46 passes for 311 yards and a touchdown.
Sean Jeffcoat caught 10 of his passes for 94 yards while Aaron Mellette grabbed six for 107 yards. Uhaa led Furman with 71 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns.
The Citadel had the weekend off.
Preview of Games of Nov. 20
Big South Conference
VMI (3-7, 2-3) at Gardner-Webb (3-7, 1-4), 11:30 a.m.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs already have lost the most games in a season since going 2-9 in 1996. Gardner-Webb certainly doesn't want to get closer to that number with another loss. VMI, meanwhile, will be motivated to double its win total from a year ago. Gardner-Webb has not lost to VMI over the seven games of this series.
Charleston Southern (3-7, 1-4) at Coastal Carolina (5-5, 4-1), 1 p.m.
Coastal Carolina must win and give up as few points as possible to have a shot at the automatic qualifier spot for the Big South. Oh, and the Chanticleers also need Stony Brook to lose. The Bucs have a lost season, but spoiling things for their rival would make the season seem a lot better. Coastal Carolina leads this series of South Carolina coastal schools 4-3, but Charleston Southern has captured the past two games.
Davidson (3-7) at Presbyterian College (1-9, 1-5), 1 p.m.
What better way for the Blue Hose to wrap up the season than with their second win of the season. A win, even over a non-scholarship team with a losing record, would make achieving progress in the offseason much smoother. The series has a little history to it as this game marks the 29th meeting of the schools on the gridiron. Davidson leads the series 14-12-1.
Stony Brook (6-4, 5-0) at Liberty (7-3, 4-1), 3:30 p.m.
Like last season, one of these teams fell to an upset the week before the big showdown in the season finale. Stony Brook bounced back from its loss last season to knock off Liberty. Can the Flames do that this year? The Seawolves need only to win the take the title outright. This new series is tied 1-1.
Appalachian State (9-1, 7-1) at Florida (6-4), 12:30 p.m.
In a normal season, this one is probably a slam dunk for the Gators, but this hasn’t been a normal season. Florida has lost four times, three at home in the Swamp. And just what will the Gators’ psyche be for a game stuck between getting smacked by South Carolina in the game to decide the SEC East title and their finale with arch rival Florida State? Does all of it add up to a chance for the Mountaineers? We’ll see. This is the first meeting between the schools.
The Citadel (2-8, 0-7) at Samford (4-6, 2-5), 2 p.m.
A forgettable season for The Citadel comes to an end in the battle of the SoCon Bulldogs. Samford’s hopes for a great season went by the boards, so it’s about finishing strong for the seniors and for next season. The Citadel would love to avoid a winless SoCon record. The Citadel leads the series 2-1.
Georgia Southern (6-4, 4-3) at Furman (5-5, 3-4), 2 p.m.
Though these rivals aren’t battling for a conference title like their good old days, they will still battle. The Eagles aren’t out of the playoff hunt. A win at Furman would secure a third-place finish and the most wins in a season since 2007. The Paladins, meanwhile, are seeking to avoid the first losing season under Bobby Lamb and the first one since 1998. While Georgia Southern leads the series 13-8, the teams are 6-6 over the last dozen meetings. Also, the visiting team has won the past three games.
Chattanooga (6-4, 5-2) at Wofford (8-2, 6-1), 3 p.m.
One week after losing the battle for first place, Wofford finds itself at home in a battle for second place. The Terriers can have second to themselves with a win while the Mocs can square the two teams’ conference marks if they win. Expect a close struggle that mirrors a series currently even at 8-8.
Western Carolina (2-8, 1-6) at Elon (5-5, 4-3), 3 p.m.
The Phoenix have played good football the last few weeks and have the opportunity to produce a winning record and a third-place finish. Western Carolina would have a better offseason by closing this one with an upset. Elon leads the series 21-16-2.