CONWAY, S.C. – Coastal Carolina football’s celebration of the program’s 100th home game and first time on national television as a Sun Belt member did not go as planned on Thursday night, as Louisiana scored first and often in a 48-7 win over the Chanticleers in Sun Belt Conference play at Brooks Stadium.
The loss drops Coastal to 4-5 overall and 1-4 in Sun Belt play, while Louisiana improved to 7-2 overall and 4-1 in conference play.
It was a perfect storm for the Chanticleers, as the offense finished the game with a season-low 236 yards of total offense on 55 plays while the defense allowed a season-high 564 total yards on 73 plays to the Ragin’ Cajuns offense.
Sophomore quarterback Bryce Carpenter went most of the way and completed 9-of-20 pass attempts for 71 yards with his longest completion of 36 yards coming on a flea-flicker on CCU’s first offensive play of the game. With his 20 pass attempts, Carpenter extended his streak to 116 attempts without an interception which ranks in the top five nationally.
Fellow sophomore quarterback Fred Payton, who had not played in the previous two games due to an injury, came on and played the final offensive series for CCU. He completed all three of his pass attempts for 62 yards with the final completion being a 44-yard touchdown pass to redshirt junior wideout Sam Denmark with just under four minutes left in the game.
Coastal running back CJ Marable led CCU’s rushing attack with 54 yards on 10 carries as the team finished with 103 total yards rushing. Freshman Reese White added 21 yards on five carries while redshirt sophomore Baden Pinson finished with 15 yards on three rushes.
Wideout Jeremiah Miller (44 yards), tight end Shadell Bell (18 yards), wide receiver Deon Fountain (11 yards) and Marable (-4 yards) all had two catches for the game, with Denmark and Fountain each making their first career reception as a Chant.
Punter Myles Prosser had a solid performance on his five punts. He averaged 40.4 yards per punt on his attempts with a long of 44 yards.
With two more defensive starters in Mallory Claybourne and Cincir Evans out due to injuries, the depleted defensive unit was led by sophomore cornerback Derick Bush and redshirt sophomore linebacker Myles Olufemi with seven tackles each, a career-high for both Chants.
UL quarterback Levi Lewis was 26-of-30 for 296 yards and three touchdowns through the air, as a total of 14 different receivers caught at least one pass on the night led by Ja’Marcus Bradley’s team-high seven catches for 71 yards and a score.
The Cajuns rushed 36 times for 225 yards and three scores, as Chris Smith tallied a game-high 99 yards and a score on just eight carries, while Elijah Mitchell ran the ball 10 times for 52 yards.
Defensively, Andre Jones led the way with a team-high seven tackles, including 1.0 tackle-for-loss and a forced fumble, while as a team the Cajuns registered 2.0 sacks and 5.0 tackles-for-loss in the win.
Louisiana proved why it is third in all of FBS in rushing yards per game with its opening drive of the game, as the Ragin’ Cajuns rushed the ball six times for 30 yards on its first possession and took advantage of a pass interference call on the Chants to score on a Lewis carry to cap off an eight-play, 66-yard scoring drive to take an early 7-0 lead with 11:19 to go in the first quarter.
After a flea-flicker on the Chanticleers’ first play of the game went 36 yards over top of the Louisiana defense to put the home team across the 50-yard line and into UL territory, a fumble on a bad handoff, a dropped pass and a missed 35-yard field goal saw the Chants come up empty and give the ball back to the Cajuns down 7-0 with eight minutes to play in the opening period.
The Cajuns continued its offensive surge posting back-to-back 80-yard touchdown drives over their next two possessions to take a 21-0 lead over the Chanticleers with 7:17 left before the halftime break.
Following the Chants second of three-straight punts in the second quarter, the Cajuns added to its lead with a 21-yard field goal by Stevie Artigue to put the Chants’ down 24-0 at the break.
After their opening drive of the game, which went 58 yards, the CCU offense totaled just 45 yards over its next four possessions for a total of 103 yards in the first half compared to the Cajuns’ 274 yards.
The second half started much like the first ended as Coastal went three-and-out on its first offensive possession of the third quarter and was forced to punt while the Cajuns continued to roll by driving 65-yards on eight plays in just 2:17 to push its lead out to 31-0 on a Lewis 10-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Williams less than five minutes into the half.
Coastal’s offense would continue to struggle down the stretch while the Cajuns scored on each of their next three offensive series to pull out to a 48-0 lead in the fourth quarter.
The Chants spoiled the Cajuns’ shutout attempt with 3:58 to go in the game as Payton launched a jump-ball 44-yards towards the ends zone where a leaping Denmark took the ball away from two Louisiana defenders for the first touchdown catch of his career.