Bucs win home opener

Charleston Southern's Christian Reyes(20) and Kevin Glears celebrate after Reyes scored a touchdown against Shorter during their game Saturday Sep. 7, 2013 at Charleston Southern University. Paul Zoeller/Staff

Jamey Chadwell’s first home game as head coach of the Charleston Southern Buccaneers ended in victory, but not without a fight from visiting Division II opponent Shorter University.

The Buccaneers fell behind early, scored 23 unanswered points, and held on for a 23-15 victory before an announced crowd of 3,812. CSU is 2-0 on the season for the first time since 2006 and opened the home schedule with a victory for the first time since 2010.

“I don’t take victories lightly, especially around here, so we’re going to celebrate the win, whether it’s 23-15 or 60-0,” said Chadwell. “We were trying to get to 2-0 and we accomplished that.

“It’s huge for us. It wasn’t pretty by any means, but I think being 2-0 validates what we’re trying to do as a program. In the past, when the game got tight like that, we might have found a way to lose. I’m happy that we won, and we’re going to build on it.”

Charleston Southern struggled offensively in the second half, mustering only 46 total yards and four first downs after rolling up 235 yards in the first two quarters to open up a 23-7 halftime advantage.

“We really couldn’t get anything going in the second half,” said Chadwell. “You have to give Shorter credit. They played hard and they made some good adjustments in the second half. Those guys coach over there, too, and you have to give them some credit.”

CSU senior quarterback Malcolm Dixon had a solid game, completing nine of 13 passes for 123 yards and two scores and adding 102 yards rushing. Goose Creek grad Kevin Glears caught two touchdown passes in the first half.

Shorter opened the game with a five-play, 69-yard drive that ended with a 50-yard scoring pass from Eric Dodson to Kirk Wilson and led 7-0 with 12:47 left in the opening quarter.

Seemingly unfazed, the CSU offense went right to work, setting the tone for what would be a productive day. Dixon took the Bucs 81 yards in 11 plays, combining with Glears on a 27-yard touchdown pass to tie the game with 7:35 to play.

Christian Reyes put the Bucs up on the final play of the quarter, busting loose on a 23-yard run for a 14-7 lead. Reyes finished the first half with 56 yards on nine carries but did not play in the second half.

Freshman punter Truett Burns set up CSU’s defense with a score, dropping a 35-yard punt inside the one-yard line. On the first play, Tre DeLoach and James Smith combined to stuff Dodson in the endzone for a safety.

With the ensuing drive, Dixon and Glears capped a 74-yard drive with a 13-yard scoring connection, pushing the Bucs to a 23-7 halftime lead. Dixon tallied 102 yards rushing and 84 passing in the first half.

Shorter dictated the action in the third quarter, out-gaining CSU, 110-45, and threatening to score twice. Both scoring drives ended in no points as Shorter missed a field goal and CSU’s Malcolm Jackson intercepted a pass in the endzone at the end of the third.

“The defense came up big for us, kept us in the game,” said Chadwell.

The Hawks hit paydirt early in the fourth with Roderick Jones scoring on a nine-yard run. Bradley Moon’s run for two points made it a one score game, 23-15, with 10:56 to play in the game. Moon rushed for 120 yards in the game.

Shorter forced a CSU punt and took over with 5:31 to play. After picking up a first down, Moon fumbled and CSU’s Damian Dixon scooped up the loose ball and returned it to the Shorter eight-yard line with 4:40 remaining.

The CSU offense, however, lost yardage on three downs and missed a 30-yard field goal with 2:18 to play. Shorter picked up a first down on its final possession but that drive ended when Demaris Freeman intercepted a tipped pass at the CSU 34-yard line to seal the victory.

Charleston Southern will travel to Campbell University next Saturday, the first of three straight road games for the Buccaneers.