CONWAY, S.C.- Coastal Carolina (11-0, 4-0 Big South), the number one team in the nation, used an explosive second half to overcome Monmouth (5-5, 0-4) 51-21 on Saturday evening at Brooks Stadium

Monmouth runs the ball against Coastal Carolina (Monmouth Athletics)

Monmouth cut Coastal’s lead to 28-14 after scoring on the first drive of the third quarter but the Chanticleers rattled off 17 unanswered points to take a commanding lead halfway through the fourth quarter.

“We knew coming into the game that we were going to have to play mistake free and execute at a high level,” said Monmouth Head Coach Kevin Callahan. “Early on we had some breakdowns on the defensive side and spotted them a lead. That’s a situation that we knew we did not want to get in, playing from behind. I thought our kids played hard and battled to get back in it but in the end they were able to make a lot more plays than we were.”

Coastal was led by Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Alex Ross, who threw for 255 yards and three touchdowns while running for 66 yards and another score. Running back De’Angelo Henderson finished with 110 yards on 13 carries while wideout John Israel had 111 yards on eight carries. Preseason Big South Defensive Player of the Year Quinn Backus led all defensive players with 12 tackles, including three solo stops.

Fifth year senior Greg DePugh (Morris Plains, N.J./Parsippany Hills) threw for 258 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start. Wideout Neal Sterling (Belmar, N.J./Manasquan) finished with eight catches for 136 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while setting the Monmouth career receptions record along the way. Lavon Chaney (Edgewater, Md./River Hill) finished with 60 yards rushing and 43 yards receiving for 103 all-purpose yards. DePugh got the nod for Brandon Hill (Audobon, N.J./Audobon/UMass), who was unable to play due to an injury.

“I thought Greg did a good job for his first full collegiate football game stepping in for Brandon,” said Callahan. “Coastal is a good defensive unit that comes with a lot of pressure and has a lot of speed. I thought he performed at a pretty good level, I was happy with his play but we weren’t able to do a lot of things around him, enough to help him out.”

Coastal Carolina drove 75 yards on 10 plays to start the game, taking a 7-0 lead on a one-yard De’Angelo Henderson run. After a Monmouth punt on its first possession, Chanticleer quarterback Alex Ross threw his first of two touchdowns in the opening half, this one a 21 yarder to Tyrell Blanks who had gotten behind the MU secondary. As the first quarter came to a close, Coastal Carolina led 14-0.

CCU extended its lead to 21-0 on the first play of the second quarter after Ross took a designed run for 17 yards to paydirt. The seven-play, 81 yard drive took just 2:01 off the clock.

Monmouth got on the board with an explosive play on its next drive when DePugh unleashed a pass to Sterling who grabbed the ball over the defender then raced 73 yards for a touchdown. Sterling’s fourth reception of the game tied the Monmouth record for most career receptions and cut the Coastal lead to 21-7 with 14:33 left in the second quarter.

Sterling became Monmouth’s all-time leading pass catcher later in the second quarter when he grabbed a 15 yard reception on fourth and three. The Hawks got deep into Coastal territory but a 36 yard field goal attempt went astray, keeping the score 28-7 with a shade over a minute remaining in the half.

Ross made one of his few mistakes in the first half when he escaped pressure and forced a ball that was intercepted by junior Joe Johnson (Manchester, N.J./Manchester). The Hawks ran out of time to convert the turnover into points, as DePugh tossed a last second pass to the endzone which was intercepted by Coastal as time expired.

DePugh engineered an 8-play 73 yard drive to open the second half that ended with a three-yard Chaney touchdown run. DePugh hit Sterling for 13 on a third and 12 early in the drive and Chaney set up the score with a 33 yard run that ended at the CCU three yard line. The score halved Coastal’s lead, 28-14 with 10:41 to play in the third quarter.

Coastal roared right back, getting into Monmouth territory on a 46 yard run by Henderson. Monmouth had back-to-back big plays from the linebacker position, first a seven yard sack on Ross by Dan Sullivan (Manasquan, N.J./Manasquan) which was followed up by a screen dropped at the line of scrimmage by Payton Minnich (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin East). CCU converted on third-and-long, this time with Ross connecting with John Israel for a 26 yard touchdown. The score put CCU up 35-14 midway through the third quarter.

CCU added a 40 yard field goal late in the third quarter to extend its lead to 38-14 with 1:13 left in the third quarter.

MU snapped the 17 point Coastal run after the Hawks took over deep in Chant territory when Kamau Dumas (Morristown, N.J./Morristown) recovered a muffed punt. Three plays later DePugh hit Sterling for a wide open touchdown and CCU led 45-21 with 10:08 to play.

Monmouth failed to recover the ensuing onside kick and Coastal went 49 yards on 10 plays, finishing the night’s scoring on a 15-yard Andre Johnson run.

Coastal racked up 560 yards of offense while Monmouth had 309 on the day. The Chants held the ball for 34:14 to Monmouth’s 25:46, while converting seven-of-12 third down opportunities.

Monmouth will wrap up the regular season next weekend when they host Gardner-Webb at 12 p.m. in a game that will be televised on the American Sports Network.

Nest Notes:
-Monmouth has lost four straight after starting the season 5-1
-The Hawks will go for their first Big South win next week against the Runnin’ Bulldogs
-Sterling now has 198 career receptions, four more than Adam San Miguel
-Sterling also moved ahead of Will Holder for second all-time in touchdown receptions, now with 22 in his career
-Sterling now has 2,565 career-yards, 302 yards behind Miles Austin and second all-time
-Freshman Mike Basile led Monmouth with 8 tackles, including seven solo stops


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Pre Game and First Quarter


2nd Quarter


Half Time


3rd Quarter


4th Quarter