Coastal Carolina 42, at Montana 35 in 2nd Round FCS Playoff (Photo Gallery)


Sophomore quarterback Alex Ross passed for three touchdowns and rushed for a game-high 123 yards to lead the 11th-ranked Coastal Carolina Chanticleers to a 42-35 win over the 4th-ranked University of Montana Grizzlies Saturday afternoon in a FCS second-round game in UM’s Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

As they have done all season long, the Grizzlies (10-3) battled back from a multi-touchdown deficit, but they couldn’t make another last-quarter comeback in their loss to CCU, a team that defeated visiting Bethune-Cookman 48-24 last Saturday in a first-round playoff game.

Coastal (12-2), the regular-season winner of the Big South Conference,  took a three-touchdown (42-21) lead with 9:33 left in the third quarter on a 51-yard scoring run by senior halfback Lorenzo Taliaferro on a quick, four-play drive that went 76 yards and took just 1:38.

But, the comeback minded Grizzlies started chipping away, and cut the Chanticleers’ lead to 42-28 on a 9-yard scoring pass from junior quarterback Jordan Johnson to junior wide receiver Mitch Saylor with 8:43 left in the game.

Griz Vs Coastal Carolina. 2nd Round of FCS Playoffs. Photo by Austin Smith.

Photo by Austin Smith

Montana had a chance to cut into Coastal’s lead even more when senior linebacker Brock Coyle sacked Ross and forced and recovered the ball, and the Griz took over on CCU’s 29-yard line.  Ross’ fumble was CCU’s only turnover in the game.

However, the Grizzlies’ drive sputtered after Coyle’s big play, and it ended with an interception of Johnson’s pass by CCU junior linebacker Quinn Backus.  It was only Johnson’s fifth interception of the season.

The Grizzlies, from the Big Sky Conference, finally got the big play that they needed late on the contest.  On that key play, Johnson hit sophomore wide receiver Jamaal Jones for a 72-yard touchdown pass, reducing the CCU lead to score 42-35 with 5:03 remaining to play.

However, Coastal retained the ball for the final 5:01 of the game and picked up a couple of critical first downs alogn the way to earn the right to advance to the final eight gams in the 24-team 2013 FCS playoffs.

The Grizzlies had an impressive opening series, as the “D” held CCU to a three-and-out, and then drove 84 yards on six plays, as junior halfback Travon Van scored on a 1-yard run, giving UM a 7-0 lead with 11:18 left in the first stanza.

Griz Vs Coastal Carolina. 2nd Round of FCS Playoffs. Photo by Austin Smith.

Photo by Austin Smith

The Chanticleers wasted no time, though, as Ross connected with senior wide receiver Demario Bennett for a CCU-record 86-yard scoring pass to tie the game at 7-7 with 9:51 left in the first stanza.

The Griz got the lead back on their next series, as Johnson hit sophomore wide receiver Chase Naccarato on a 15-yard TD pass, which gave Montana a 14-7 edge with 5:16 left in the first quarter.  It would prove to be Montana’s final lead of the game.

The Chanticleers scored on their next possession, which was a 5-yard run by Taliaferro with 1:52 left in the offense-filled first stanza to tie the game up at 14-14.  After the second and final tie of the contest, CCU broke loose for three unanswered touchdowns.  When redshirt freshman halfback De’Angelo Henderson scored on a 9-yard run he gave CCU a 35-14 lead with 31 seconds left until halftime and Coastal took that 21-point advantage at intermission.

The game was played in bitter cold day at Washington-Grizzly Stadium, as it was -5 degrees at kickoff, although 17,345 mostly Griz Faithful fans braved the frigid weather.

Johnson was 24-of-48-1 for a career-high 388 yards and 4 touchdowns.  Junior running back Jordan Canada had 17 carries for 104 yards – his sixth 100-yard rushing game of the season.  Van added 14 totes for 41 yards, while Johnson rushed for 24 yards on three attempts.

Griz Vs Coastal Carolina. 2nd Round of FCS Playoffs. Photo by Austin Smith.

Photo by Austin Smith

Sophomore wide receiver Ellis Henderson led the Griz with a game-high 6 catches for 119 yards.  Naccarato added 5 grabs for 45 yards and a TD, and Jones had 4 receptions for 102 yards and two scores.  Nine different UM players had a least one catch.

UM junior free safety Matt Hermanson had a career and game-high 19 tackles.  Defensive team captains and senior linebackers Brock Coyle and Jordan Tripp had 12 and 11 stops each, while junior end Zack Wagenmann added 10 tackles and a sack.  Coyle also had 2.5 tackle for loss, and the forced fumble and fumble recovery.

Ross was a very efficient 16-of-21-0 (76.2%) and rushed 21 times for his 123 yards, and seven of his carries went for first downs.  Taliaferro had 16 carries for 102 yards and two TDs, and has rushed for 26 touchdowns this season.  Sophomore receiver Niccolo Matstromatteo had 4 catches for 38 yards and two TDs.

Montana out-gained Coastal in total yards 557 to 476 and ran 10 more plays (82 to 72).  CCU rushed 51 times for 274 yards and 3 TDs, while UM had 34 totes for 169 yards and one score.  CCU had a 23 to 22 edge in first downs.

Jordan Johnson. Griz Vs Coastal Carolina. 2nd Round of FCS Playoffs. Photo by Austin Smith.

Photo by Austin Smith

GRIZ SEASON NOTES: Canada rushed for more than 1,000 yards this season, something that has only been done 11 times in school history.  He ended with 1,062 yards.  Canada’s 16 touchdown runs this year time him for the fifth most in a season.

Johnson passed for 3,378 yards this season, becoming the 11th quarterback to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a year.  Johnson’s 32 TD passes this season tie him for the fourth most in a season.

Henderson ended with 1,008 receiving yards in 2013, making him the 12th player to go over 1,000 receiving yards in a season.  Henderson had 14 TD catches this year, which ties him for the third most ever in a season.

Coyle finished with a team-high 125 tackles in this season, followed by Hermanson (107), and Tripp (100).

Tripp finished fourth in school history with 336 career tackles.  Coyle had 292 career tackles which are the 12th most, while senior LB John (J.P.) Kanogata’a had 271 career stops, which ranks him 15th all-time.