CONWAY, N.C. – The Presbyterian College football team rallied late in the fourth quarter to push top-ranked Coastal Carolina but the upset bid fell just short as the Chanticleers held on for the 24-17 on Saturday evening at Brook Stadium in Conway, S.C. The Blue Hose (1-5, 0-1 Big South) put together its most complete performance of the season against the Chanticleers (6-0, 1-0 Big South) in a game that was delayed nearly two hours due to lightning.
Presbyterian put itself in a position to win late in the contest, as the Blue Hose defense held Coastal Carolina short by mere inches on fourth-and-one at the PC 40 with just 2:49 remaining in the game. The PC offense would drive 50 yards on 12 plays, culminating in a fourth-and-goal chance from the 10-yard line. Ultimately, the fourth-down pass fell incomplete and the Chanticleers iced the clock to stay unbeaten on the season.
“I was really proud of the way our kids played,” said PC head coach Harold Nichols. “I thought that they competed and did some really good things tonight. They really showed some football character there (in the fourth quarter) that I was really proud of.”
Darrell Bridges shined in the loss, amassing a career-high 186 rushing yards and a touchdown on 32 carries to once again lead the Blue Hose offense. His 186 rushing yards are the second-most in a single game in PC’s Division-I history, trailing only Lance Byrd’s 274 rushing yards against Charleston Southern in 2009.
Kaleb Griffin earned the start at quarterback for the Blue Hose, completing 13-of-26 passes for 157 yards in his first start of the year. Tre'von Howell recorded a career-high four receptions for a career-high 75 receiving yards. Donelle Williams and Ed Britt each recorded eight tackles to lead PC, while Britt grabbed the sixth interception of his career, just one shy of the PC career record.
As team, Presbyterian totaled a season-high 348 yards of offense, including a season-best 191 yards rushing. PC forced two turnovers for the fifth time this season, while committing no turnovers for the second time this year. The Blue Hose totaled a season-high 21 first downs to Coastal Carolina’s 19.
PC opened the scoring for the second straight game with a 34-yard field goal by freshman kicker Brett Norton. The Blue Hose put together a nine-play, 52-yard drive that spanned 3:23 late in the first quarter, resulting in the early 3-0 lead.
Coastal Carolina countered on the ensuing drive, finding the end zone with some trickery. The Chanticleers lined up for a 21-yard field goal but holder Ryan Keane ran left upon taking the snap and pitched to kicker Ryan Granger for the touchdown. CCU then optioned out of its extra point formation and attempted a two-point conversation but Donelle Williams sniffed it out and forced an incomplete pass to keep it a 6-3 game.
The Chanticleers would add to their lead on each of its next two drives with field goals from Granger of 38 yards and 47 yards, respectively, to take a 12-3 halftime lead.
The second half got off to a shaky start for the Blue Hose. Following a three-and-out, PC set up to punt but the snap went over the head of punter Stephen Doar and out-of-bounds for a safety, giving Coastal Carolina a 14-3 advantage at the time.
Presbyterian would not dwell on the miscue, though, as Britt picked off Ross on the ensuing Coastal Carolina possession to give PC the ball back. The Blue Hose would then drive 85 yards on eight plays, resulting in a 30-yard touchdown run by Bridges to cut the lead to 14-10 midway through the third quarter.
Coastal Carolina would respond with a long, 86-yard drive of its own but the PC defense held the Chanticleers to just a field goal to keep it a onc-score game at 17-10. The Chanticleers would stretch their lead to 24-10 on its following drive on a five-yard touchdown run by DeAngelo Henderson with 9:56 to play in the game.
PC would find its stride on offense on the following drive. Griffin led PC on an eight-play, 82-yard drive, highlighted by a 24-yard completion from the redshirt senior quarterback to Jordan Hallums that put PC at the one-yard line. Two plays later, Griffin punched it in on a quarterback sneak and cut the lead to 24-17 with 6:04 remaining in the contest.
After the defense made its key stop on fourth-and-one, Griffin again led PC down the field on its final drive of the game. The key play in the series was another big throw from Griffin, this time a 26-yard strike to Howell to put inside the 10-yard line with just under a minute to play. Four plays later, on fourth-and-goal, the final pass of the game would fall incomplete turning the ball back in to the hands of the Chanticleers with only seconds to play.
De’Angelo Henderson rushed for 124 yards and one touchdown for the Chanticleers. Henderson has now scored a touchdown in 20 straight games, tying an NCAA FCS record. Alex Ross completed 16-of-30 pass attempts for 201 yards and one interception in the win. It was the first time this season that Ross did throw a touchdown pass for Coastal Carolina. Bruce Mapp hauled in seven catches for a game-high 129 receiving yards for CCU.
PC returns home next week for Homecoming when its plays host to Charleston Southern at Bailey Memorial Stadium at 2 p.m.