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CCU faces Eagles in home opener after 5 OT loss

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CCU faces Eagles in home opener after 5 OT loss

    Coastal Carolina coach Dave Bennett couldn’t have made it any plainer about how he felt after last Saturday’s gut-wrenching 47-45, five-overtime loss at Towson State University.
    “It felt Sunday like you had been to the funeral of a family member,” said Bennett who is the only coach in the nine-year history of Chanticleer football. “It was one of those where you need all day Sunday to mull it over and then you have to move on.”
    The Chants (0-2) play their home opener at 6 p.m. Saturday at Conway, S.C., when they host Georgia Southern (1-1) which will be looking to rebound from a 13-7 loss at Navy.
    Coastal opened its season by dropping a 31-0 game to No. 21 West Virginia. It was 10-0 at the half, and the Chants turned the ball over at their own 19 to open the second half which led to a Mountaineer touchdown.
    WVU running back Noel Devine, who is on the Heisman Trophy watch list, rushed for 111 yards, but he had only 56 after three quarters.  
    Then came last Saturday’s loss to Towson, which trailed 28-14 in the fourth period.
    “It’s hard to win a football game,” Bennett said, “but we had a chance to win it in regulation.”
    Bennett said the Chanticleers were their own worst enemy, citing 30 errors and poor tackling as the major culprit that let Towson, a team which has three total wins in the last two seasons, two of them coming against Coastal Carolina.
    “We had 16 missed tackles,” Bennett said. “We had 10 missed assignments on defense, and 20 on offense. That’s 30 missed assignments.
    “If our guys execute and do what we’re supposed to do we have a chance to have a good season.”
    Unlike past seasons the Chanticleers, along with their Big South Conference brethren, are playing for the opportunity to reach the FCS playoffs. With the field being expanded to 20 teams this season the Big South champion gets an automatic bid.    
    Coastal made the playoffs in 2006, and remain the only Big South team to participate in the playoffs. The Chants, who were 9-2 in the regular season that year, lost their opening round game at Appalachian State, 45-28.
    This will be third meeting between the two schools with Georgia Southern winning both. The Eagles prevailed 38-21 in 2006 at Paulson Stadium, and the following year won 42-34 at Coastal Carolina.
    Since that lone playoff appearance, Bennett’s teams have struggled, going 16-20 and are currently in a three-game losing streak dating back to last season.
    Coastal has never lost four straight games under Bennett, who went 6-5 in the program’s first years of play before going 27-6 the next three years.
Offensively the Chants are led by quarterback Zack McDowell who has completed 32 of 59 passes for 304 yards and has another 77 yards rushing.
    “They’re scary,” Georgia Southern defensive coordinator Brent Pry said. “I watched them on tape a couple of times last year and they looked okay. Now you look at them and they look like a new football team.
    “The quarterback is solid, they can run and throw the ball, they’ve got weapons at running back and weapons at tight ends and receivers,” Pry said. “They’re a pretty good, well rounded unit.”
    “Zack is excited about this weekend,” Bennett said. “He’s a good quarterback, but our goal is for him to be a great quarterback. We’ve just got to finish the job.”

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