“We still got work to do!” Those were the words of a subdued but reflective Brian Jenkins following his team’s 48-24 loss to Coastal Carolina on Saturday.
The Jenkins led Bethune-Cookman Wildcats entered Brooks Stadium in search of their first ever playoff victory but a red-hot Coastal offense coupled with several offensive miscues derailed BCU’s chances of advancing to the round of 16.
Alex Ross tossed 4 touchdowns and directed Coastal to 473 yards of total offense.
After going 3 and out to open the game, Ross found a wide open Tyrell Blanks for a 19 yard touchdown in the back of the endzone on CCU’s second possession.
BCU drove the ball well on the ensuing possession but a bizarre play that was technically classified as a sack, fumble, and fumble return for a touchdown pushed CCU’s lead to 14-0.
“I tried to step up in the pocket as I was getting ready to throw. (The defender) hit my arm and I tried to find the ball as it popped into the air” quarterback Quentin Williams stated when questioned about the play. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, the ball landed softly in the hands of Coastal linebacker Mike McClure who returned the fumble 39 yards for a defensive score.
It was a huge momentum shift in the game and from that point on BCU found themselves chasing points.
The Wildcats penetrated the CCU redzone on their next possession but had to settle on a 23 yard Jonathan Cagle field goal.
All Big South performer Matt Hazel hauled in a 36 yard pass with :40 remaining in the 1st quarter for his first of two TD receptions on the afternoon.
BCU again responded this time going 8 plays and 72 yards and ending with a 4 yard Quentin Williams touchdown run.
Walter Payton Award Finalist, Lorenzo Taliaferro, ended the first half scoring on the strength of an 8 yard TD run and pushed CCU’s advantage to 27-10.
Bethune-Cookman had an opportunity to cut the deficit to 2 scores and build some momentum going into the half but a failed fake field goal attempt came up 2 yards shy of pay dirt. “I thought if we could punch it in there would have been a different mentality (for both teams heading into the half). If we could have came away with the seven points there and come out and scored on our first possession after half, we would have been right back in the ball game” Jenkins lamented. But it wasn’t meant to be.
John Isreal and Matt Hazel hauled in 23 and 21 yard TD receptions from Ross in the second half to widen Coastal’s margin to 41-10.
Senior quarterback Brodrick Waters tossed a 16 yard TD to Eddie Poole and followed that up with a 27 yard scoring run of his own in the 4th quarter.
BCU gained 460 yards of total offense on the afternoon. Eddie Poole hauled in 8 passes for a 120 yards with 1 score. Williams finished the day 16/29 for 202 yards.
Defensively Jarkevis Fields led the way with 11 tackles while LeBrandon Richardson and Marquis Drayton had 10 apiece.
Fields stated after the game “we had a great season. To my 24 seniors that are leaving with me; we balled-out. I know that the underclassmen will be pushing harder for next season. (This program) just has to keep pushing forward and getting better.”
Jenkins went on to say “we didn’t get it done but we’re not going to hang our heads or feel bad.” “We are going to look at what we need to correct as a coaching staff; starting with me and then evaluate our program thoroughly. We’re going to strap it up with recruiting and then build another championship quality team to hopefully have a chance to line-up in the ring and have a chance in the playoffs next season.”
“(This loss) doesn’t take away anything that we have done or that this team has done.” We were one of the last 24 teams (remaining) and that’s something to feel good about; but we will find a way to get it done (in the playoffs) ….We will!”