RICHMOND, Ky. – The Eastern Kentucky University football team entered the game eighth in the nation in rushing defense, but No. 21 Coastal Carolina ran for 339 yards in a 51-32 victory over the 25th-ranked Colonels.
EKU entered the contest allowing 66.5 yards rushing per game and had limited No. 8 Louisville to 78 yards a week ago. However, the Chanticleers came out running and amassed 138 yards on the ground on their first two drives.
Both teams overcame double-digit deficits in the game. Eastern Kentucky fell behind 14-0 after Coastal's first two drives ended with touchdown runs by Lorenzo Taliaferro, the first coming from 45 yards out.
The Colonel defense briefly righted the ship to allow EKU to score 24 unanswered points. After running for 138 yards on its first two possessions, Coastal Carolina totaled just 35 yards on the ground on the next six possessions.
The Colonels got on the board when junior quarterback Jared McClain found senior tight end Nathan Watts all alone along the right sideline. Watts bobbled the ball briefly, and then raced to the end zone untouched for a 70-yard scoring pass.
Eastern was down 14-10 early in the second quarter when McClain helped give his team its first lead. The junior ran 40 yards up the middle on a busted play early in the drive and then capped it with a seven-yard touchdown pass to redshirt freshman wide receiver Devin Borders for a 17-14 lead. On Coastal's ensuing possession, senior defensive back Christian Albertson picked up a fumble and carried it 28 yards for a score and a 24-14 lead.
The Chanticleers turned two Eastern turnovers into 10 points to tie the game and then took a 31-24 halftime lead when Taliaferro scored his third touchdown with 11 seconds left before intermission.
Coastal Carolina rolled off 20 unanswered second half points thanks in part to converting 6-of-8 third downs following intermission. The Chanticleers totaled 631 yards of offense, second most in program history.
Coastal's Taliaferro finished with 174 yards on 17 carries, for an average of 10.2 per touch. Quarterback Alex Ross completed 19-of-28 for 292 yards and three touchdowns. DeMario Bennett caught six passes for 131 yards and a score.
For EKU, McClain was 15-for-34 for 233 yards. He tossed two touchdowns and one interception. McClain also led the ground game with 93 yards on 10 carries. None of the four running backs had more than 22 yards.
The Colonels take to the road to face Morehead State next Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.