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      Coastal wins football opener at The Citadel

      Courtesy Coastal Carolina University:

      CHARLESTON - Walter Payton Award candidate Alex Ross completed 24-of-32 passes for 263 yards and a touchdown to lead the No. 6/7 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers to a 31-16 victory over host The Citadel in the season opener for both teams on Saturday evening at Johnson Hagood Stadium.

      Ross extended his program record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass to 15 and surpassed the 200-yard mark for the 11th time in 22 career games played (16 starts).

      Sophomore receiver Bruce Mapp tied a school mark with 10 receptions and compiled his first career 100-yard game, finishing the day with 108 and a touchdown catch. Sophomore De'Angelo Hendersonrushed for 94 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, senior transfer quarterback Aaron Aiken and junior running back Andre Johnson each scored their first career touchdowns. Ross also added 67 rushing yards on 13 carries.

      Coastal, which won its fourth straight season opener, the last three under head coach Joe Moglia, finished the game with 434 total yards, including 171 rushing. The Citadel totaled 377 yards with 358 of them coming on the ground.

      Devin Brown got Coastal off to a good start by returning the opening kickoff 40 yards. Eight plays later, Henderson found paydirt from five yards out and Alex Catron tacked on the extra point for an early 7-0 lead.

      On The Citadel's ensuing possession, Brett Johnson dropped Bulldog quarterback Aaron Miller for a five-yard loss to force a punt. A bad, low snap led to Coastal's Brown and Dontay Hears tackling Citadel punter Will Vanvick for a 15-yard loss and giving the Chants the ball on the 16 yard line. After a Ross completion to Mapp to the Bulldog six, Aiken kept the ball on a quarterback keeper, broke two tackles and scored from six yards out on his first snap as a Chanticleer to put CCU up 14-0.

      Neither team could get on the scoreboard the remainder of the first half thanks to Coastal missing a pair of field goals from beyond 45 yards.

      The Citadel opened the second half with a 14-play scoring drive. While the Bulldogs took 7:41 off the clock, the Chanticleer defense made a stop on third down to force a 42-yard field goal by Eric Goins to make the score 14-3.

      Coastal Carolina answered with a 10-play, 84-yard drive. Ross ran twice for 10 yards and was 6-of-7 passing in the drive, including a 25-yard strike to Craig Weick and a nine-yard touchdown to Mapp to give Coastal a 21-3 advantage.

      After a punt by The Citadel, Coastal struck again. Ross completed 4-of-5 passes in the nine-play drive, including a 26-yarder to Tyrell Blanks to get to Bulldog one. Facing third down, Johnson scored for a 28-3 cushion to start the fourth quarter.

      The Citadel trimmed their deficit to 18 midway through the fourth quarter as Vinny Miller capped a 13-play, 75-yard drive with a 5-yard run to make it 28-10 with 8:55 to play.

      The Chanticleers then ran almost six and a half minutes off the clock on a 14-play, 61-yard march with 10 rushes that Catron capped off with a 29-yard field goal for a 31-10 score and just 2:27 to play. The Bulldogs closed out the scoring on a 30-yard touchdown run by Tyler Renew.

      Coastal Carolina improved to 16-1 over its last 17 regular-season games versus NCAA FCS opponents and improved to 9-8 versus Southern Conference opponents, including wins in six of its last seven in such games.

      Coastal stays on the road next week when they travel to North Carolina A&T. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.