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This article is dedicated to Jerome “Doc” Griffin and his fight against cancer.
ORLANDO, FL – When the seventh-annual Tailgreeters Cure Bowl featuring the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers and Northern Illinois Huskies at Exploria Stadium kicked off, it was destined to be “more than just a game“. While the 47-41 Chanticleer victory lived up to that hype, the money raised for cancer research would make this event worthy of the slogan regardless.
For those that like offense, 12 of the first 13 drives of the contest were good for points on both sides with 1,030 yards of combined offense on the evening. The first punt of the night took place with 1:30 left in the 3rd quarter. By then, the score was 38-33 in favor of the Huskies and anyone who bet the over was already celebrating.
While Northern Illinois quarterback (Michigan State transfer) Rocky Lombardi had two touchdown passes, he only threw 20-of-33 for 181 yards. Lombardi also was affective in the running game with 66 yards and a touchdown.
However, it was running backs Jay Ducker and Antario Brown that enabled the Huskies’ offense to control the game with a time of possession of 39:20. Ducker and Brown combined for 251 yards on 36 carries with a touchdown.
NIU head coach Thomas Hammock felt good about his game plan and the success it brought since the Huskies had a chance to win in the closing seconds. In the short time that passed between the end of the game and the postgame press conference, Hammock had already figured out what the mindset will be to assure that 2022’s campaign will build off their conference championship season.
“The mindset is this, we’re going to keep it small. It’s about the discipline and the details. And if you keep it small, you don’t think about things that you have no control over. The only thing that we can do every day is the discipline and the details to continue to work,” stated Hammock.
The MVP of the game honors went to Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall who finished the game going 22-of-30 for 315 yards and four touchdowns.
While McCall’s final touchdown pass of the night to Isaiah put his team in striking distance to make it 41-39, it was running back Brayton Bennett’s 34-yard score for the sixth lead-change of the contest that got Coastal the victory. Bennett also had a 60-yard touchdown as well in his 108-yard performance on six catches.
Defensively, it was Costal Carolina’s Silas Kelly who caused the only turnover of the game with a forced fumble that was crucial in the closing minutes.
Chanticleer head coach Jamey Chadwell spoke on what it meant to secure his program’s first bowl win for him and his players.
“I’m proud to be their head coach. This team has had a lot of ‘firsts,” said Chadwell. “We’ve talked a lot this week about leaving [the players] legacy. It’s the final legacy for this group of seniors and super seniors — we have 28 of them. To go from nobodies and five football seasons later to be a conference champion, to being a bowl champion to being Top 25 in the country, what a legacy and what a foundation.”