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Cards vs. Chants: An All-American tussle

Coastal Carolina-Lamar Matchup

Offense

• Westside: 454.9 yards per game (198.7 rushing, 265.2 passing); returning leaders De’Angelo Henderson (senior RB, 1,346 yards and 16 TDs on 222 carries), Bruce Mapp (junior WR, 769 yards and 7 TDs on 50 receptions) and Devin Brown (senior slot, 157 yards on 16 receptions)

• Lamar: 437.0 passing yards (266.8 rushing, 170.2 passing); returning leaders Kade Harrington (senior RB, 2,092 yards and 21 TDs on 266 carries), Carson Earp (senior QB, 576 yards and 7 TDs on 42-of-78 passing with 2 interceptions) and DeAndre Jennings (95 yards and 1 TD on 9 receptions)

Defense

• CCU: 416.3 yards per game allowed (198.0 rushing, 218.3 passing); returning leaders Alex Scearce (junior DE, 79 tackles, 4 for losses), Jabari Bothwell (senior DT, 73 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 pass breakups) and Kerron Johnson (junior LB, 1 interceptions, 1.5 tackles for losses)

• Lamar: 442.5 yards per game (227.5 rushing, 215.0 passing); returning leaders Xavier Bethany (senior LB, 87 tackles, 5 tackles for losses, 2 interceptions), Omar Tebo (senior DL, 3.5 tackles for losses, 2 forced fumbles) and Larry Carroll (senior DL, 40 tackles, 3 tackles for losses)

Sound bytes

• CCU coach Joe Moglia: “We probably won’t know what kind of team we have for the first two or three games, but Lamar is going to be an important start for us.”

• Lamar coach Ray Woodard, on practicing better since a lackluster scrimmage: “We addressed some things. It was more from inexperience. We cut back on some things so we could rep other things more. I thought we may have overloaded them a little bit.”

Coastal Carolina still needed an opponent for its season opener, and according to Lamar coach Ray Woodard, hardly anyone in the Football Championship Subdivision wanted to take on a team that upgraded to 85 scholarships while still playing on that level.

When Lamar agreed to play, giving it a sixth home game on its schedule, it only made for a parade of All-Americans.

The host Cardinals have two of them on the roster. Running back Kade Harrington made first-team All-America on four lists including the Associated Press and STATS FCS. Right guard Bret Treadway is a preseason third-team All-American by two organizations, but the jury is still out as to whether the Silsbee product, who’s been battling mononucleosis, will be available to play Saturday night.

The Chanticleers are bringing three of them. Running back De’Angelo Henderson, a recreation and sport management graduate who is pursuing another degree in communication, was a candidate for STATS FCS National Offensive Player of the Year, an award in which Harrington got second place in balloting to Eastern Washington’s Cooper Kupp.

“They’ve got, arguably, as good a running back in the country, which I think we do, too,” Woodard said. “I think both of them shared a lot of the All-American teams last year. They’re going to come up with a very potent, very experienced offensive attack.”

Then there’s return specialist Devin Brown, who returned two kickoffs for touchdowns and led the FCS in yards per return at 28.6 yards last year. Sam Ekwonike, a 6-foot-2, 355-pound, first-team All-Big South offensive lineman, earned a preseason All-American nod.

Now, the seniors carry the Chanticleers into Texas for the first time in program history and put their No. 16 national ranking on the line against a team still contending for its first appearance in the NCAA Division I playoffs. (CCU, an independent this season, cannot qualify for the playoffs due to its transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision and the Sun Belt Conference for 2017.)

“I hope it’s a long worried trip for them,” Woodard said. “You’re going to need things like that to help us. Anytime you bring a team that has to travel, and you can bring them to a hostile environment and a loud crowd, that will help us.”

VICTORY IN BUSINESS AND FOOTBALL

By now, the story of Coastal Carolina’s athletic success is nothing short of inspirational.

There’s the baseball team’s stunning surge to the College World Series championship straight out of the Big South Conference. The men’s basketball team has been to the NCAA tournament two of the past three seasons. And the football team, which began play in 2003, won seven Big South titles, including four in the past six years (three straight from 2012-14).

Much of the football team’s success can be credited to another success story, head coach Joe Moglia.

The New York native’s story is easily lost in the mystique of the Conway, S.C., university’s Chanticleer pride. Moglia left his defensive coordinator position at Dartmouth, where he had won two Ivy League championships, after the 1983 season to enter the corporate world with Merrill Lynch. After 17 years with the wealth management firm, he became a chief executive officer at TD Ameritrade and, according to Coastal Carolina, became the only person in the world to write books on football and finance, including 2001’s “The Key to Winning Football: The Perimeter Attack Offense” and 2005’s “Coach Yourself To Financial Success: Winning the Investment Game”.

After seven years at the helm of Omaha, Neb.-based TD Ameritrade, Moglia seemingly was an easy hire to become executive advisor to then-Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini, paving his way to a head coaching career with the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League in 2011 and, since 2012, Coastal Carolina.

“Football’s always his first love,” Woodard said. “But he got out of it to make money, and he was very successful. He probably applied a lot of the lessons he learned playing football into the business world. … You can see that he’s applied a business model into football and a football model to business, and he’s done both.”

NEW FACE

The Chants go into the season with a new starting quarterback in sophomore Josh Stilley. He completed 1 of 2 passes for 4 yards in two games last year, and he replaces a single-season 3,000-yard passer in Alex Ross, who also threw for 21 touchdowns.

“You’re replacing an All-American quarterback with Josh [Stilley],” Moglia said. “He’s going to be an excellent quarterback, but right now he has zero experience. He’s being backed up by a freshman [Avery McCall] who, again, is an excellent athlete, but has zero experience. … What we’re trying to do is ask them not to do what somebody else did. We’re asking them do what we believe they can do.”

Lamar is a little more fortunate, having Carson Earp return under center for his senior season after sharing starts with successful master of business administration candidate Joe Minden.

Woodard, though, isn’t sure if a new opposing quarterback entirely bodes well for the Cards.

“That could be good and bad,” Woodard said. “He could light it up or be a guy they’re not going to try to make him win on his own and feed off the running game. We don’t know.”

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: COASTAL CAROLINA AT LAMAR

• When: 7 p.m. Saturday

• Where: Provost Umphrey Stadium, Beaumont

• Webcast/Radio: ESPN3.com/KLVI-AM 560

• Series record: First meeting

• Rankings: Coastal Carolina No. 16 by STATS FCS

• Promotions: Mobiloil Credit Union is sponsoring a Clear Bag Giveaway; Youth Football Day (all youth players will receive a free general admission ticket to the game if they enter through gate 4 and be allowed to form a pregame tunnel before kickoff; parents of youth players may purchase a ticket for $5); Red Rush (all Lamar freshmen and new students can run onto the field behind the LU players and coaches prior to kickoff); Kids Zone, open at 3:30 p.m. on the practice field; free concert by JAG starting at 5 p.m. at the northwest corner of the stadium (by the marquee)

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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