Red Wolves punter Ryan Hanson executed a punt that was a perfect as they come; 50+ yards, rolling out of bounds at the Coastal Carolina 1 yard line. You could have not imagined a more perfect punt. And yet, the 99 yard touchdown pass from Grayson McCall to Isaiah Likely that followed was so predictable that it registered absolutely no surprise from the dutiful crowd that showed up for a Thursday night game with the #15 ranked program in America.
Were it only the defensive deficiencies! When starting quarterback wasn’t getting sacked and phantom-sacked, he was watching in dismay as catchable passes bounced off the turf again and again and again. By halftime, it was 24-0 and the Chants’ offense had out-gained the Red Wolves 303 yards to 51.
Then things got worse. Blackman arrived to second half wearing street clothes. The Chants then opened play with a 38 yard run up the middle by Shamari Jones, which ended with an ambulance coming for starting Red Wolves cornerback Samy Johnson, who spent several minutes surrounded by paramedics on the field. Johnson was taken to St. Bernards Hospital.
From the tragedy erupted a few moments of something because once again the Layne Hatcher sorcery happened, leading the team to a Corey Rucker TD pass – the first passing TD surrendered by the Chants all season. Hatcher followed that with a 63 fantastic yard strike to Te’Valiance Hunt. The only thing spoiling the magical moment was the defense’s inability to make a stop, as Likely piled on another TD between Hatcher’s brilliance.
Suddenly, the defense began to look…effective. The third quarter ended at a 14-14 stalemate, and the fourth quarter opened with an uncharacteristic defensive stop from a unit that had already surrendered 500 yards. Lincoln Pare rumbled in for a one yard TD (sponsored by Pizza Inn), and out of the blue the Red Wolves were within 18.
Two plays, 86 yards and less than a minute later, the Chants added a rushing TD just to remind the Red Wolves defense that they were, indeed, the Red Wolves defense.
By the fourth quarter, what little pass protection the offensive line provided had eroded to near nothing, leaving Hatcher to scramble haphazardly and even doink a toss off the back of Marcel Murray’s helmet. The Chants, sensing victory, implemented a solid strategy running it up the middle for a 67 yard TD run – from the back-up quarterback, who zipped by the Red Wolves defense as though the home uniforms were made from the dense matter of a black hole.
For added measure, Hatcher (scrambling for his life, of course) coughs up a bouncy pick to eliminate any shot of the Red Wolves covering the spread.
In the end, the Red Wolves did drop two passing TDs on a defense who hadn’t allowed a passing TD all year. Also, the tackling actually looked a little better. But the fact remains that the defense gave up 685 yards, another pile of big plays, and another final score of over 50 points. Look for Isaiah Likely (232 yards, 4 TDs) to become the fourth Red Wolves opponent to secure Player of the Week honors. Final score, Red Wolves 20, Coastal Carolina 52.
Photo Credits: Sadly they are mine