While this weekend’s Big South Conference showdown between Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina could be considered the biggest game in CSU football history, there is one game that ranks as the Bucs’ biggest win ever.
CSU’s Top 5 Wins
Nov. 19, 2005: CSU 34, Coastal Carolina 27
The Bucs clinched a share of the Big South title, the school’s only championship in football.
Sept. 9, 2006: CSU 38, Citadel 35
CSU’s first win in the series with its crosstown rival after being outscored, 145-43, in the first three meetings with The Citadel.
Nov. 11, 2000: CSU 25, Liberty 0
The program’s first-ever road win against a scholarship Division I-AA program.
Sept. 28, 2013: CSU 27, Appalachian State 24
First win over a major FCS team.
Aug. 31, 2013: CSU 32, Citadel 29
Despite being heavy underdogs to a veteran Bulldogs squad that was expected to contend for the Southern Conference title, the Bucs rallied from 16 points down to win.
Saturday’s game pits two nationally ranked teams — CSU is 16th, Coastal Carolina is third in the FCS poll — and is the first time in Big South history that two nine-win teams have played each other. A CSU victory would easily rank as the biggest in school history, replacing a game played between the same two teams that currently sits atop the list of CSU’s biggest football wins.
During the summer of 2005, CSU sophomore receiver Eddie Gadson was killed in a car accident. The Bucs dedicated the season to Gadson, who came to CSU as a walk-on and led the team in receiving his freshman year.
Gadson’s family was in attendance for that memorable game on Nov. 19. It was afternoon that ended with fans, coaches and players from both teams believing in divine intervention.
Charleston Southern hosted a nationally ranked Coastal Carolina squad that came to Charleston with a 9-1 record and riding a seven-game winning streak.
CSU was 6-4 overall and 2-1 in the conference. An improbable upset victory against Coastal Carolina, 3-0 in the league, would clinch a share of the Big South title.
With 2:49 left in the game, Coastal scored on a fake punt to take a 24-10 lead. At that point, there was little hope of CSU mounting a comeback.
Bucs head coach Jamey Chadwell was an assistant on the staff. He recalls the day vividly.
“When they faked that punt to go up two scores, we were thinking it might be over,” said Chadwell. “The way it all turned out, it was a very special day in my coaching career for sure.”
Things got interesting right away when CSU quarterback Collin Drafts directed a four-play touchdown drive to make it a 24-17 game with 1:39 left on the clock.
After recovering an onside kick near midfield, Coastal Carolina’s quarterback took a knee three times as the clock was running out. With 10 seconds left and Coastal facing a fourth-and-21 situation at their own 38-yard line, the Chanticleers snapped the ball to wide receiver Jerome Simpson with instructions to turn and run to his team’s own end zone for a safety as time was expiring.
But Simpson, who now plays for the Minnesota Vikings, inexplicably ran out of bounds at the 5-yard line, stopping the clock with 1.5 seconds remaining.
David Bennett, Coastal’s head coach at the time, remembers talking to Simpson later about the play.
“It was maybe a few days later, but I remember Jerome telling me that he was counting the 10 seconds off in his head and when he got to 10, he stepped out,” Bennett said earlier this week. “He was supposed to just run to the end zone and run around until the clock expired, take a safety, and the game would be over.”
With enough time to run one play, Drafts threw a touchdown pass to receiver Markus Murry to send the game into overtime. The Bucs eventually won the game on a touchdown in the second overtime.
Bennett said the disappointment of losing the game, and an FCS playoff berth, was softened by what he witnessed immediately after the game.
“For Eddie’s family, and for that football team, that game brought closure,” said Bennett. “I know God is a busy man and the outcome of football games is not his priority. But there was something going on that day. As a coach it hurt, but as a father, it was special to see what one football game could do for a family and a team that was hurting.”