CLINTON — Coastal Carolina’s task was simple Saturday — take care of business against Presbyterian and then wait to see what happened in the other Big South Conference game of note to learn if the league championship remained a possibility.
The Chanticleers did their part with ease, setting or nearing multiple program records on the way to a 65-7 win against the Blue Hose inside Bailey Memorial Stadium.
The other part of the equation came later in the evening as Liberty upset No. 6-ranked Stony Brook 28-14 in Lynchburg, Va., to set up a scenario in which all three teams would finish tied atop the conference standings if the Chants and Flames win their respective finales next week. Because all three are 1-1 against each other, the tiebreaker would go to the team with the best road record in league play — which is Coastal.
In short, the Chants likely are one win away from locking up an FCS playoff berth as they look ahead to their home game with Charleston Southern this weekend and Liberty prepares for a road trip to VMI.
“When Liberty scored, you could hear our guys cheer. They were certainly excited,” CCU coach Joe Moglia said over the phone later in the evening as the team was on its trip back to Conway. “But they handled it pretty good. They realize we have to win next week. They realize Liberty has to win next week. So once again, we have to take care of business.”
That was the game plan Saturday, and they executed it almost flawlessly.
Coastal (6-4, 4-1 Big South) totaled 625 yards of offense to fall just short of the program record of 638 yards set against Gardner-Webb in 2006. The Chants went into halftime with a 44-7 lead to break the school record for points in a half, which was 42 from a 2006 game against Savannah State. And the 65 points ranks fourth on Coastal’s all-time list behind the record of 71 set in 2005 against Mansfield.
Senior quarterback Aramis Hillary completed 19 of 22 passes for 261 yards, five touchdowns and one interception while returning to the lineup after a one-game injury absence. He rushed seven times for 81 yards, and all of those stats came in the first half. He needed two quarters to tie a Big South single-game record with those five touchdown passes.
Senior Marcus Whitener rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns in 13 carries for the Chants while junior Matt Hazel led all receivers with six catches for 78 yards and two scores.
“We weren’t going to take them lightly,” Hazel said. “We’re going to play everybody like they’re the No. 1 team in the nation.”
Hillary had stood on the sidelines last weekend while Coastal defeated Gardner-Webb and his status was in doubt again early this week because of lingering pain in his throwing arm. He acknowledged afterward Saturday that there was a moment when he thought he might miss the rest of the regular season.
He wouldn’t have wanted to miss this one, though.
“My arm was giving me a little trouble early in the week, and I started getting some bad news,” he said. “I thought I was going to have to miss this week and possibly next week, but things worked out. People were obviously praying for me, and my arm seemed to get better throughout the week. Coach prepared me well to play, and we came out here and we put on a show. We had fun doing it.”