You can use two words to sum up Bethune-Cookman’s 24-14 first round playoff defeat to Coastal Carolina: MISSED OPPORTUNITIES.
On BCU’s first two (2) possessions of Saturday’s matchup against the Chanticleers, quarterback Quentin Williams overshot passes to Jhomo Gordon, KJ Stroud, and Eddie Poole that would have been surefire touchdowns.
Daytona Beach native DJ Howard had an opportunity to return a pick six from inside the CCU 15 yard line on the Chants opening offensive possession, however, the Spruce Creek product was unable to hold on to the interception. So instead of the Wildcats leading by 2 or 3 scores early in the contest, they found themselves trailing 17-0 heading into halftime.
“In the playoffs you’ve got to seize opportunities. If you don’t, the opportunity will go right pass you” quarterback Quentin Williams stated. He went on to state “in the playoffs it’s not about who’s better or who’s worse, it is about who takes advantage of the opportunities”.
While BCU missed on its chances, CCU took full advantage of the Wildcats’ miscues and scored 10 points off of 2 BCU turnovers in the second quarter.
Coastal Carolina opened the game’s scoring on a 6 play 75 yard drive with 13:50 seconds remaining in the 2nd quarter. The drive was capped by a 14 yard option run by Marcus Whitener. The Wildcats initially defended the play well but senior quarterback Aramis Hillary pitched the ball late allowing Whitener to run untouched for the opening score.
The Chants doubled their lead when All Big South 1st team receiver Matt Hazel outleaped Tim Burke in the left corner of the endzone to cap a 9 play 58 yard drive with 7:23 left in the 2nd quarter.
“I told coach to call that play” Hazel stated. (They were) “in man coverage across the board. Aramis threw a great ball and I saw it at the last minute and just went and got it”.
Controversy struck on BCU’s next possession. Trailing 14-0 midway through the second quarter, Williams hit tight end Jordan Murphy for a short gain. Murphy was originally ruled down on the play but a booth review overturned the call.
Coach Brian Jenkins went ballistic when the game’s head official announced the decision to overturn the call.
“(Jordan) did fumble. We had a couple of players in the area but (when the official blew the play dead) they stopped. Their player recovered the ball but if you blow the play dead, I don’t understand how you go back and review it. My argument was you blew the play dead so it negates anything else” Jenkins stated.
Quentin Williams echoed his coach’s sentiments: “when Murph (Jordan Murphy) caught the ball, I heard the official blow the whistle. That’s why I stopped.”
Coastal took over possession at the BCU 43 yard line as a result of the play. 5 plays later, Apopka High School product, Alex Catron, pushed CCU’s lead to 17-0 on a 35 yard FG conversion. The score remained unchanged heading into intermission.
Early in the 3rd quarter, redshirt freshmen Nick Addison picked off an Aramis Hillary pass in the endzone to help breathe life into the Wildcats. But the Chanticleer defense kept BCU off the scoreboard on the ensuing possession.
Brodrick Waters entered the contest for an ineffective Quentin Williams on the Wildcats second possession in the 3rd quarter. Waters broke on a 57 yard run on his first drive under center. BCU got the ball as deep as the CCU 4 yard line on the drive but a false start penalty pushed the ball back to the CCU 11 yard line.
Coach Jenkins suffered his second visible meltdown of the game and had to be physically restrained by BCU administrators and coaches after the false start penalty was called against his squad.
“We had our guys go from a 2 point stand to a 3 point stand and they called us for a false start. None of our guys jumped. Two officials called offsides and one called illegal shift. When I asked for an explanation I got three different answers”.
Jenkins’ was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for his reaction to the call and cost his team an opportunity for a chip shot field goal. The result of the play put the ball on the 26 yard line but instead of attempting a 43 yard FG, Jenkins decided to go for it on 4th and 26.
Waters found KJ Stroud in the back of the endzone on the 4th and 26 play and BCU seemed to be back in business. But it wasn’t meant to be. The television replay showed Stroud’s hand landed out of bounds before his foot landed in the endzone. The overturned touchdown call embodied BCU’s afternoon of missed opportunities.
Coastal Carolina safety, Johnnie Houston put the game out of reach when he returned a Brodrick Waters’ interception 68 yards to put Coastal ahead 24-0. Houston’s return was the 2nd longest interception return in school history.
A 74 yard touchdown pass from Quentin Williams to David Blackwell with 6:44 left in the game gave Bethune its first points of the afternoon. Williams connected with KJ Stroud in the back of the endzone on the 2 point conversion attempt to cut the lead into a two possession contest (24-8).
Isidore Jackson’s 10 yard touchdown run capped off the game’s scoring. Jackson, who needed just 8 yards rushing to reach 1,000 on the season, finished the contest with 77 yards on the ground and 1,069 on the year. Jackson’s 1,069 yards represents the 3rd best rushing season in BCU history.
Quentin Williams threw for 215 yards and 1 touchdown. It was the first time he surpassed the 200 yard passing mark in his career.
Jarkevis Fields led the Wildcats defense with 15 tackles. Nick Addison pitched in with 10 tackles, 1 fumble recovery and an interception.
The MEAC is now 0 for its last 17 as a conference in the FCS playoffs.
Redshirt freshmen, Nick Addison and Quentin Williams, vowed to take this bad feeling and get better in the offseason. Both players stated that Bethune-Cookman will win a playoff game before their eligibility expires in three years.
The Wildcats are now 0-4 in the FCS playoffs.
The win secured Coastal Carolina’s first ever playoff victory. The Chanticleers will travel to Norfolk, Virgina next week to take on #4 ranked Old Dominion.