Coastal Carolina lost its first Sun Belt Conference home game Saturday, dropping the team’s record to 1-4.
The Chanticleers battled Georgia State (2-2), but the Panthers emerged with a 27-21 victory.
As the game time approached, the Georgia State fans seemed just as loud as the Chanticleer faithful. The official crowd size was just under 16,000. At kickoff, it seemed like an omen for the evening as Georgia State ran back a 90-yard return for touchdown.
The Chanticleers fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter. They got on the board when senior quarterback Tyler Keane tossed a 33-yard pass to junior Omar Black for a touchdown. The game went into halftime with the Chanticleers trailing the Panthers 21-7, but they came back out ready to play in the second half.
Coastal pulled within a touchdown of Georgia State with a little over a minute left in the game, but with an unsuccessful onside kick, the game was over as the Panthers just ran out the clock.
Despite the loss, the Chanticleers did show some improvement. Keane had his first game of the season without an interception. He threw for 239 yards and three touchdowns.
But many fans were still unhappy that interim head coach Jamey Chadwell continued to rotate quarterbacks, with Keane splitting snaps with senior Dalton Demos.
“Just pick a quarterback already,” longtime Coastal fan Harvey Daniels said. “I’ve never seen such indecisiveness, especially at this level. Pick someone and stick with them.”
Chadwell said he understands fans are not pleased with Coastal’s recent performance.
“We’re asking our team to do something and believe that good results are coming … and we’re hitting some adversity,” he said. “It’s pushing back right now. We’ve got a hurting team in the locker room, but we’re heading in the direction I think we need to as far as the type of attitude and effort we play with. We have to continue to correct the little mistakes that are keeping us from winning football games.”
Although Coastal’s passing game appears to be progressing, the Chanticleers are facing a problem they’ve never had before: no ground game. Coastal rushed for a little over 100 yards on 32 carries, with no individual running back gaining 50 yards on the night.
“We are struggling to run the ball and we have been the last couple of weeks,” Chadwell said.
Coastal’s non-existent running game has made clock management difficult, and the Chanticleers’ opponents have dominated the time of possession.
Georgia State controlled the clock Saturday night. In the fourth quarter alone, the Panthers had the ball for over nine minutes. When Coastal did score, it was in quick spurts. They were unable to maintain lengthy drives, going 4-for-11 on third down conversions. They also struggled to keep the Panthers off the field.
“For the most part, I think all year long … we’ve done pretty well stopping people with the run,” Chadwell said. “Our issue is we’ve got to do a better job on third down. We get them in third down situations third and medium and third and long and we need to get them off the field. I thought that was a big difference in the game.”
Another obvious problem for Coastal was discipline. The Chanticleers have struggled with penalties this season, and the Georgia State contest was no different. Coastal had two personal foul penalties that cost the Chanticleers 30 yards.
This season, the Chanticleers have been flagged 36 times in five games, costing them 347 yards.