Once-beaten No. 21 Coastal Carolina meets Georgia Southern

National Sports

Once-beaten No. 21 Coastal Carolina meets Georgia Southern

An aggressive mindset is important for No. 21 Coastal Carolina.

The Chanticleers verified that with some key plays in their most recent game, a 35-28 victory over Troy last week. They want to continue that as they hit the road for the first time since their only loss, which came Oct. 20 vs. Appalachian State, 30-27.

Coastal Carolina will play Georgia Southern on Saturday night in Statesboro, Ga.

“You’re trying to show people that if you put your mind together for a common purpose,” good things can happen, Coastal Carolina coach Jamey Chadwell said.

So Coastal Carolina (7-1, 3-1 Sun Belt) could be back on track for the final month of the season.

Chadwell said it was important for the team to play with more freedom to alleviate pressure that might have been brewing with an undefeated record.

“You control what you can control,” Chanticleers quarterback Grayson McCall said. “We just try to get better every day.”

Georgia Southern (2-6, 1-4) could use a boost of confidence. The Eagles have lost three games in a row — most recently giving up a touchdown in the final minute of a 21-14 loss to Georgia State.

The Eagles have gone through a coaching change and on-field struggles. They’re determined to make something positive of the season.

“The overall vibe in the locker room is pretty much like it was Week 1,” safety Justin Birdsong said. “Just ready to play and do everything we can get in the swing of things.”

Interim coach Kevin Whitley said the Eagles need to stay the course.

“Greatness comes at a cost,” he said. “I want guys who love football. Guys who put the extra work in to be successful.”

On Tuesday, the program announced it has hired Clay Helton as its next permanent head coach. He reportedly will begin working behind the scenes while Whitley remains the on-field coach the remainder of the season.

Meanwhile, the Chanticleers have shaken off the sting of their defeat to Appalachian State.

“We were hurting after that loss,” Chadwell said. “Some of the swag, some of the confidence was a challenge.”

So now they’re in the process of building that back. Coastal Carolina still can win the East Division and land a spot in the Sun Belt Conference championship game, but another Appalachian State loss would be required for that to happen. In the meantime, the Chanticleers must uphold their part by winning the rest of their games.

The Chanticleers didn’t run up another huge point total, but efficiency counted for something in the Troy game. They were 10 of 17 on third-down conversions.

“We definitely have some stuff to work on,” McCall said.

Jaivon Heiligh is coming off his 10th career 100-yard receiving game, setting a program record. Shermari Jones has rushed for two touchdowns in three different games this season.

The big-play capability has been on display for the Chanticleers. They have eight touchdown plays of 50 or more yards in their past three games.

Georgia Southern leads the series 5-2, though Coastal Carolina won 28-14 last year at home.

This is Coastal Carolina’s lone road assignment in an upcoming three-game stretch. The Chanticleers have played midweek games in their last three outings.

The only previous ranked opponent to visit Paulson Stadium — at the Football Bowl Subdivision level — was Appalachian State in 2018. The Eagles pulled the upset that day for one of two victories against Top 25 FBS teams in 21 all-time matchups.

For Georgia Southern, this could begin a three-game stretch with two Top 25 opponents because in two weeks there’s a visit to Brigham Young, currently ranked No. 15.

–Field Level Media

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