Coastal Carolina vs Northern Illinois. 5 thoughts and instant reaction after the 47-41 win by the Chanticleers in the Cure Bowl.
Coastal Carolina 47, Northern Illinois 41: Tailgreeter Cure Bowl
5. Let’s start with the end
For those who didn’t see it, down 47-41 in the final moments, Northern Illinois was deep in Coastal Carolina territory with time winding down. On 4th and 1, QB Rocky Lombardi connected with Miles Joiner for a four-yard play, Joiner hit the ground and the ball fell out of bounds.
It was ruled a catch, the officials weren’t sure, they got the ball to the line as the clock kept rolling, and Northern Illinois didn’t get another snap when it probably should’ve had one last-gasp tick on the final play.
It was all messed up, but even with the sloppy ending it was still a fantastic game.
4. It was a great showcase for both conferences
The star of the MAC this season showed off what life is going to be like under Thomas Hammock going forward.
The Northern Illinois program went from winless last year, to the conference championship, to within a tick of a huge bowl victory. It did it by being physical, tough, and with runners who kept working their way down the field. It was a power win by the MAC’s power team.
Coastal Carolina showed off just how fun the Sun Belt is. This was the offense and the team everyone fell in love with last year, and this win proved the program is going to keep on rolling.
It was the best of what both Group of Five conferences can be.
3. Northern Illinois was terrific … on offense
A 12-point underdog, the MAC Champion was totally disrespected – and it played like it from the start.
Yeah, the Coastal Carolina offense ripped through the Huskie defense without a problem, but the other side of the ball was dominant.
NIU had the ball for close to 40 minutes, it blasted away for a physical 335 yards, and it wore down the Coastal Carolina defense as the game went on. But again, the NIU defense just couldn’t come up with that one big stop late, and the game’s lone turnover – a fumble by Lombardi after a great run – turned out to be the one blink between the two sides.
2. Coastal Carolina was terrific … on offense
The second half of the season was a grind for the Chanticleers.
Star QB Grayson McCall was banged up, there were a slew of tough battles, and the team that was supposed to roll to a Sun Belt championship struggled to get here.
Forget about controlling the clock – Coastal Carolina came up with huge play after huge play, averaging eight yards per carry and 10.5 yards per throw.
All of the stars came out. McCall threw for 315 yards and four scores, TE Isaiah Likely caught seven passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns, Braydon Bennett ran for 108 yards and two scores and caught four passes for 47 yards and a touchdown …
514 yards later, Coastal Carolina got its 11th win of the season.
— Sun Belt Football (@SunBeltFB) December 18, 2021
1. Now THAT’S what you want an early bowl to be
Over 1,000 yards of total offense, big plays, a relatively clean game – outside of a key Northern Illinois fumble – and both teams doing what they do best. It was a whole lot of fun, there were a whole slew of big moments, and the two teams played like they really, really wanted to win – because they did.
It was Coastal Carolina’s first ever bowl win, it was a game for Northern Illinois to use as motivation all offseason, and it was pure bowl game entertainment to get the bowl season rolling.