Coastal Carolina at #1 North Dakota State 2013 FCS Playoffs Quarterfinal Game Breakdown

Coastal Carolina at #1 North Dakota State 2013 FCS Playoffs Quarterfinal Game Breakdown


Coastal Carolina at #1 North Dakota State, Saturday, noon

Despite the temperature at kickoff in Missoula being some 70 degrees cooler than that of their hometown, Coastal Carolina’s offense again proved their mettle in a 42-35 victory last week against Montana.  Sophomore quarterback Alex Ross tallied a career-best 123 rushing yards, while adding three scores on a 16-of-21 passing performance that netted 202 yards.  Ross also became one half of the longest pass-play in Chanticleer history, completing an 86-yard strike to wide receiver DeMario Bennett.  All-American running back Lorenzo Taliaferro followed Ross’ lead in breaking the century mark, finishing with 104 yards on 16 carries. 

The Chanticleers’ 35-14 halftime advantage was nearly negated in the second 30 minutes, as the Griz outscored Joe Moglia’s team 21-7 in the second half.  The Chants’ final touchdown came on another personal milestone, as Taliaferro put his team ahead 42-21 on a 51-yard touchdown run, the longest of his career.  Montana totaled 557 yards of offense against Coastal, with 313 of those yards coming in the second half.  Montana’s three touchdown drives in the second half were all 72 yards or greater.

Meanwhile, North Dakota State’s Saturday was considerably less stressful -- at least, for half of the day.  The Bison hammered SoCon champion Furman 38-7, despite taking a meager 10-7 lead into the locker room.  NDSU scored three third-quarter touchdowns, adding the final exclamation mark on a 53-yard run by quarterback Brock Jensen.  Jensen led his team in rushing, going for 94 yards and the aforementioned trip to the end zone.  Running back Sam Ojuri added 75 yards and a touchdown.  Jensen completed 15-of-25 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns. 

The Bison held Furman’s rushing attack to just 102 yards on 35 carries, a miserable 2.9 yards per carry.  Furman’s final five drives ended with three punts, a turnover on downs and an interception, which was returned 61 yards for a score by NDSU’s Marcus Williams with 5:33 remaining in the third quarter.  That interception gave the Bison a 31-7 lead at the time.  The game’s momentum arguably shifted much earlier, though, as Furman’s 17-play, 94-yard drive ended with a stop of Paladin quarterback Reese Hannon just outside the goal line.  The drive took 8:21 off the clock.  That stop ended up being converted into a 99-yard North Dakota State drive, which went 10 plays and lasted 4:10.  That drive ended on a 52-yard touchdown pass from Jensen to Zach Vraa, giving the Bison a 7-0 lead.  Vraa led his team in receiving, hauling in five passes for 112 yards.

This shapes up to be a tremendous offensive battle.  Two top-twenty offenses will be on the turf in the Fargodome on Saturday (Coastal Carolina 10th, NDSU 19th).  Coastal ranks in the top ten in three additional offensive categories (seventh in rushing offense, 263.3 yards per game; sixth in passing efficiency, 158.94; third in scoring offense, 42.9 points per game), while NDSU ranks 12th in rushing offense (239.7 yards per game) and third in passing efficiency (166.37).  The Chanticleers scored 26 points or greater against each FCS opponent they faced this season, while the Bison scored 20 or greater in each FCS contest.

The game will likely be won or lost on defense, though, and this is where the Bison hold a tremendous advantage.  Coastal Carolina ranks 99th in total defense (446.7 yards per game) and rushing defense (204.1 yards per game).  The Chants are slightly more effective against the pass, ranking 94th (242.6 yards per game).  The Chanticleers are 76th in scoring defense, allowing 29.2 points per game.  NDSU, conversely, ranks in the top ten in every major defensive category.  The Bison rank second in total defense (250 yards per game), third in rushing defense (91.7 yards per game) and first in scoring defense (11.2 points per game).  North Dakota State has not faced an offense -- on the FCS level, anyway -- with the proficiency of Coastal, but these numbers are still tremendously impressive.

The final storyline for this game is, in the minds of many, the most important point on which to focus.  North Dakota State head coach Craig Bohl announced over the weekend that he would be accepting the coaching job at Wyoming.  Bohl will continue to guide the Bison through their playoff run, but this will obviously loom over the remainder of NDSU’s time in the postseason.  Bohl owns an outstanding 101-32 record (49-24 in Missouri Valley play) during his time in Fargo, and will look to close out his Bison coaching tenure with his third consecutive FCS title.  Bohl’s teams are 40-2 during that three-year run.

Projected Score: North Dakota State 31, Coastal Carolina 30


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