STATESBORO, Ga. (AP)Backup quarterback Bryce Carpenter threw for 85 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score to help No. 21 Coastal Carolina beat Georgia Southern 28-8 on a rainy Saturday night.
The Chanticleers (8-1, 4-1 Sun Belt Conference) are tied with Appalachian State (7-2, 4-1) atop the East Division standings, but the Mountaineers are in the driver’s seat after a 30-27 series victory last month.
Coastal Carolina announced an hour before the game that starting quarterback Grayson McCall would not play. The school said McCall is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury.
”It is our interpretation that this is a long-term thing. Hopefully, we get him back before the end of the season,” Coastal Carolina coach Jamey Chadwell said.
McCall is a redshirt sophomore who has thrown for 2,063 yards, 17 touchdowns and two interceptions this season. He leads the nation in passing efficiency and is third in completion percentage.
”But we’ve been here before, and Bryce Carpenter has played a lot of football for us,” Chadwell said. ”It’s next-man-up mentality. Bryce has that mindset and he’ll play well and help our football team play well.”
Carpenter, who entered with 19 pass attempts this season, connected with Kameron Brown for a 12-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring. Carpenter made it 14-0 with a 23-yard run, and Mason Shelton recovered a blocked punt and returned it 33 yards for a three-touchdown lead.
It was Alex Spillum’s second blocked punt of the season, after a block and TD recovery in the end zone against Kansas.
Josaiah Stewart led the defensive effort for Coastal Carolina, which forced four turnovers and held Georgia Southern (2-7, 1-5) to 233 total yards. Stewart finished with four sacks.
Carpenter was 13-of-20 passing for Coastal Carolina. Shermari Jones carried 20 times for 96 yards and a TD.
Backup quarterback Cam Ransom was 5 of 10 for 64 yards, including a 6-yard TD pass to Beau Johnson early in the fourth quarter to put Georgia Southern on the board. Justin Tomlin, the starter, was intercepted once in 13 attempts.
The Eagles entered ranked 11th in FBS with an average of 230.6 yards rushing per game. Tomlin finished with a team-high 39 yards rushing.
Coastal Carolina: Although Georgia Southern is last in FBS allowing 322.4 yards passing a game, the Chanticleers only put up 85 yards through the air while rushing for 220 against an Eagles defense that allows 155.
Georgia Southern: Clay Helton, fired by Southern California on Sept. 13, was hired by Georgia Southern on Tuesday and introduced at the school Thursday. He observed the game but is not making coaching decisions until after the season. He plans to evaluate players and coaches and begin recruiting while Kevin Whitley will continue as interim coach after replacing Chad Lunsford following a 1-3 start.
Coastal Carolina: Hosts Georgia State next Saturday.
Georgia Southern: At Texas State next Saturday.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25