BEAUMONT, Texas – After being held to only three points in the opening half, the 16th-ranked Coastal Carolina Chanticleers scored 35 unanswered in the second half to pull away from the upset-minded Lamar University Cardinals Saturday night at Provost Umphrey Stadium. The Chanticleers recorded a 38-14 decision to spoil Big Red’s season opener. The loss ended a string of three-straight season opening wins for the Cards.
“I like the energy that we played with in the opening half,” said LU head coach Ray Woodard. “I liked our mindset at halftime, and the way we started the third quarter. We had the ball and we were driving in the third quarter and I thought if we could punch it in here we can really start to disrupt what they want to do offensively. All of a sudden an interception, the ball goes the other way and we couldn’t overcome it. I wasn’t particularly happy with any of our three phases of the game after that.”
Senior running back Kade Harrington seemed to pick up where he left off last season as he carried the ball 28 times for 207 yards and two touchdowns. The Cardinals (0-1) ended the night with 391 yards of total offense, while Coastal had 407.
In a battle of preseason player of the year candidates, Harrington outshined the Chanticleers (1-0) De’Angelo Henderson who ended the night with 28 carries for 158 yards and two touchdowns. Henderson continued his NCAA Division I streak of 27-straight games with a touchdown carry.
The first half was a much different story as the Cardinals stormed out to an 11-point advantage. LU’s defense kept Coastal off balance forcing the visitors to punt the ball away four times in the opening 30 minutes, and took advantage of two missed field goals.
Trailing by three points early, the Cardinals took their first lead of the game when Harrington closed out the opening quarter with a 59-yard run. Harrington’s touchdown scamper came on the second play of the series. The second quarter remained a defensive struggle until the 2:38 mark when the Cardinals again turned to their preseason All-America running back. Harrington took the ball from quarterback Carson Earp and carried it 64 yards for the score. Similar to his first touchdown run, Harrington’s score came on the second play of the drive.
The Cardinals took a 14-3 advantage into the locker room but the momentum turned less than five minutes into the third quarter. Big Red appeared to be driving for another score when Earp rolled out to his right looking down the field but his pass was intercepted at the LU 29 yard line by the Chanticleers’ Richie Sampson and returned 71 yards for the touchdown. Coastal converted on the two-point conversion to pull within three-points, 14-11.
After forcing a three-and-out on the next serious, the Chanticleers were able to reclaim the lead since early in the contest. After a 31-yard punt return by Chris Jones moved the ball down to the LU 26 yard line, Coastals Osharmar Abercrombie carried the ball in from 26 yards out two plays later to give Coastal an 18-14 advantage.
After tacking on a 34-yard field goal with less than four minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Coastal defense forced another three-and-out to get the ball back on the Cards’ 40 yard line. The Chanticleers turned to Henderson to extend their lead. Henderson carried for gains of 18, 13 and nine yards to push the ball across the goal line to give the visitors from Conway, S.C. a 28-14 advantage. The Chanticleers tacked on one final score with seconds remaining in the contest.
Earp finished the night 13-of-27 for 154 yards and two interceptions. He also carried the ball eight times for 25 yards. Earp connected with six different receivers on the night led by transfer Marcus Daggs who hauled in four passes for 47 yards.
The Chanticleers defense was able to slow down Harrington in the second half. Of his 207 rushing yards, only 55 came in the game’s final 30 minutes.
“They did a good job of getting their outside people up the field and taking away Kade’s big runs,” said Woodard. “They limited his runs in the second half and dared us throw the ball. We’re going to have to throw the ball better. Carson is going to have to do a better job of taking off and running with the ball when the read is there.”
LU’s defense was led by sophomore Davon Jernigan who recorded 14 tackles, including nine solo stops.
The Cardinals return to action Saturday, Sept. 10 when they travel to Houston, Texas to take on the University of Houston. The game against the nationally ranked Cougars will kick off at 11 a.m. from TDECU Stadium, and will be televised on ESPN3. The Cougars are 1-0 after knocking off third-ranked Oklahoma in their opener.
(© 2016 KBMT)