CONWAY – Western Illinois, ranked 19th in the NCAA Division I FCS poll, scored 45 unanswered points to hand Coastal Carolina a 52-10 setback Saturday night at Brooks Stadium.
The Leathernecks (3-0) took advantage of two turnovers and piled up 510 yards of total offense en route to the win. The Chanticleers (1-2) only managed 56 yards of offense over six possessions after taking a 10-3 lead in the first quarter.
For the Leathernecks, quarterback Sean McGuire completed 15 passes to 10 players on 17 attempts for 276 yards and three scores.
Coastal took an early 3-0 lead on its second possession as Evan Rabon drilled a 52-yard field goal, the second-longest in school history and one yard shy of the record as Alex Catron hit a 53 yarder at Gardner-Webb in 2014. The score was set-up by a 50-yard Tyler Keane to Malcolm Williams completion, a career long for the junior receiver.
The Leathernecks answered with a four-play, 74-yard drive to take a 7-4 lead. The key play was 36-yard pass from Sean McGuire to Tony Harper. On the scoring play, WIU ran a reverse pass with wide receiver Isiah LeSure. Coastal nearly sniffed it out as Silas Kelly tipped the pass only to see the ball land in the hands of the quarterback, McGuire.
Undaunted, Coastal bounced right back to regain a three-point lead, 10-7. On 3rd-and-1, Marcus Outlow burst up the middle for a career-long, 43-yard run. Two plays later, Alex James found pay dirt from 24 yards out for his first career touchdown.
Midway through the second quarter, Western Illinois put together a nice 11-play drive that consumed nearly six minutes. They had gains of 12, 10, 15 and 19 yards, the last being a McGuire to Brandon Gaston pass to give the Leathernecks a 14-10 lead.
On its next possession, Western gained 57 yards on a shovel pass to tight end Adam Conrady to the CCU 15. Steve McShane got the CCU one on a reverse and Max Norris capped the drive with a one-yard dive to put Western Illinois up 21-10 with 2:23 left in the first half.
Western Illinois kept the momentum as the second half began. McGuire connected with Clint Ratkovich on the first play from scrimmage and, two plays later, McGuire scrambled for a 16-yard gain. McGuire then found McShane for a 17 yard completion before McShane had a two-yard TD run to put the Leathernecks up 28-10.
For the second time, Western Illinois was on the fortunate end of a tipped pass, this one on defense. Tyrin Holloway met Malcom Williams at the same time the pass arrived and Riggs Baxter came down with it for an interception. On the next play, McGuire ran right then threw back across the field to an open Conrady for a 10-yard TD and 35-10 lead.
On the ensuing drive, Western Illinois forced a turnover on downs. The Leathernecks was able to turn the turnover into a score for a 32-point lead, 42-10, with nine seconds left in the third quarter.
After a CCU punt than put WIU on its own 20, Western Illinois sealed the game with six minutes left as Devon Sanders broke free for an 80-yard touchdown run to go up 52-10.
Coastal Carolina will hit the road to play at UL Monroe next Saturday (Sept. 30.) in what will be the Chanticleers first Sun Belt Conference game. Kickoff is set for 6 pm (CT).