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CCU stifles comeback bid from Kansas as it dominates season opener, 38-23

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Grayson McCall

Coastal Carolina freshman Grayson McCall lunges for the end zone moments before his first of two rushing touchdowns in a 38-23 win at Kansas on Saturday night. In addition to his two rushing touchdowns, McCall ran for 73 yards on 11 carries and threw for 133 yards on 11-of-18 passing and tossed three touchdowns. Provided/Coastal Carolina University

The Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina University came into Lawrence, Kan. again on Saturday night and did what they did last year — beat the University of Kansas.

However, this time it was a more comfortable 38-23 win, instead of a 12-7 win like last year when Coastal Carolina upset the Jayhawks for its first-ever Power 5 win.

"Well, obviously, any time you can get a victory right out because (of) fall camp and everybody's excited about the start of the season, and to get off to a great start like we did was awesome," Chants head coach Jamey Chadwell said. "We wanted to come in and really and try and establish the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball; I thought we did that early."

However, the Jayhawks made it interesting late by scoring 17 unanswered points. But a late 2-yard touchdown run by freshman quarterback Grayson McCall put the Chants up 35-17 with 9:55 to go in the fourth quarter.

"It got a little close, but we were able to get a drive there in the second half to really put it away," Chadwell said.

Kansas wide receiver Kwamie Lassiter II caught a 5-yard pass from Miles Kendrick to make it 35-23 with seven minutes to go, making it interesting again.

The Jayhawks converted a successful onside kick, but it was called back after an offsides penalty, putting a huge dent in their comeback plans.

Coastal senior kicker Massimo Biscardi put the cherry on top with a 27-yard field goal with 1:13 remaining.

"I thought it was a pretty complete game," Chadwell said. "We didn't turn it over, they turned it over. We handled the line of scrimmage and we made the plays when we needed to. I thought our defense really did play pretty well."

Make it two in a row now for the Chants, who were led by McCall with 133 passing yards on 11-of-18 passing and three touchdowns through the air. He also rushed for two scores and totaled 73 yards on 11 carries.

"I thought Grayson McCall did some good stuff for us as a freshman quarterback," Chadwell said.

Senior running back CJ Marable led the team in rushing with 75 yards on 21 carries. Junior wide receiver Jaivon Heiligh had a team-high 74 yards receiving on three catches, including a score.

The Chants defense came up with a big play on Kansas’ opening drive of the game, with junior cornerback Derick Bush hauling in a tipped ball near the Kansas 30-yard-line to halt a promising drive.

Bush had one career interception before Saturday, coming against Arkansas State in 2019.

"Obviously, we got some turnovers, and we were able to capitalize on those turnovers early," Chadwell said.

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And capitalize they did, as McCall opened up the scoring when he was helicoptered into the air by defenders and landed in the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown run and a 7-0 Chants lead with 6:22 left in the first quarter.

McCall had 31 yards rushing on CCU’s opening drive of the season, while Marable added 19 yards on the ground.

For the second consecutive possession, Coastal’s defense came up with a turnover, this time with junior Enock Makonzo picking up a fumble inside Kansas’ 30-yard-line.

McCall notched his first touchdown pass with a 2-yarder to defensive lineman C.J. Brewer, giving the Chants a 14-0 lead with 2:37 to go in the first.

Brewer shed his normal No. 52 jersey for No. 38, as the defensive tackle joined the offense at the goal line.

After a 43-yard pass to Heiligh got the Chants deep into Kansas territory, McCall hit junior tight end Isaiah Likely from 2 yards out to put CCU up 21-0 with 10:57 to go before the half.

The game's final turnover came via CCU junior linebacker Jeffrey Gunter, as he tipped the ball high into the air at the line of scrimmage and hauled it in.

The Chants took advantage of the turnover as Heiligh broke away from the secondary and hauled in a 25-yard touchdown pass from McCall with 55 seconds left in the half to put Coastal up 28-0.

Kansas finally hit pay dirt when Andrew Parchment caught a 14-yard touchdown from junior quarterback Miles Kendrick, converting on a 4th-and-5 in the process, to make it 28-11 after a 2-point conversion with 2:29 to go in the third.

The Jayhawks used more than eight minutes on the 16-play, 89-yard scoring drive.

After a three-and-out by the Chants’ offense, Kansas took advantage with just 4 seconds left in the third quarter when sophomore running back Velton Gardner burst through the right side of the line and scampered for a 61-yard touchdown to make it 28-17. Kansas went for two and failed, leaving CCU with an 11-point advantage.

Kendrick went 15-of-24 through the air for the Jayhawks with 156 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Gardner led Kansas with 81 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown, and Lassiter led in receiving with five catches for 63 yards and a score.

Kansas head coach Les Miles, who was 44-1 in non-conference home games while at Oklahoma State and LSU, is now 1-2 in such games at Kansas courtesy of the Chants and Chadwell.

Miles wasn't alone on Saturday, as the Big 12 went 0-3 against the Sun Belt.

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