Playing its first game as a member of the Top 25, No. 25 Coastal Carolina looked the part when it mattered most, scoring two touchdowns in less than two minutes halfway through the fourth quarter on Saturday to topple Georgia Southern 28-14 at Conway, S.C.
CJ Marable snapped a tie with 8:53 remaining, taking a pass from Fred Payton and going 24 yards against a busted coverage for a 21-14 lead. Reese White followed with a 20-yard touchdown run with 6:58 left, one play after Jaivon Heiligh returned a punt 40 yards to set up the Chanticleers (5-0, 3-0 Sun Belt Conference) in prime position.
Payton completed 15 of 28 passes for Coastal Carolina for 252 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He was starting for the first time this year after starter Grayson McCall, a redshirt freshman who threw for 11 touchdowns with just one interception in the first four games, was declared out with an upper-body injury.
The Chanticleers, in just their fourth year as an FBS member, struck early with Payton under center. He found Sam Denmark for a 72-yard scoring strike with 7:10 left in the first quarter.
The Eagles (3-2, 1-2) responded with a special teams touchdown. Wesley Kennedy lugged a punt 60 yards with 57 seconds left in the period to even the game.
Coastal Carolina regained the lead with 8:57 remaining in the half on Payton's 2-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Brown. But Georgia Southern fought back to tie it up with 24 seconds left in the half on a 5-yard run by J.D. King.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, but the Chants came through down the stretch to perhaps earn another week in the rankings.
Quarterback Shai Werts experienced a rough day for the Eagles, hitting only 7 of 20 passes for 94 yards with two interceptions and rushing for just 36 yards on 16 carries. Werts entered the game as the ninth-leading career rusher among active FBS players.
--Field Level Media