LAWRENCE, Kan. — Coastal Carolina might want to start scheduling a trip to Kansas every season.
Grayson McCall threw three touchdown passes and ran for two more scores, the Chanticleers forced the Jayhawks into three early turnovers, and coach Jamey Chadwell’s bunch rolled to a 38-23 victory early Sunday. It was the second consecutive year that the young Football Bowl Subdivision program had won in Memorial Stadium.
“Great win for our program,” Chadwell said. “Just proud of the effort.”
He was proud of the Sun Belt, too. Louisiana bludgeoned No. 23 Iowa State, and Arkansas State rallied to beat Kansas State earlier Saturday. By the time Coastal Carolina wrapped things up about 1 a.m. local time, its lightly regarded league was 3-0 against the mighty Big 12 with all the wins coming on the road.
“We didn’t want to let the Sun Belt down,” Chadwell said. “Hopefully people back on the East Coast were awake to see it.”
There were no fans on hand for the Jayhawks’ opener because of the coronavirus pandemic. Then again, considering they trailed 28-3 at halftime, there probably wouldn’t have been many left under normal circumstances — and combined with the 9 p.m. kickoff due to television, it meant few people probably saw it.
Miles Kendrick threw a touchdown pass in relief of Thomas MacVittie, who appeared to leave with a shoulder injury, and Velton Gardner had a 61-yard TD run as the Jayhawks tried to rally in the second half. But the Chanticleers answered the back-to-back touchdowns with McCall’s second on the ground to put the game away.
“I think we were adequately prepared. I think we came into the stadium with the right mindset,” Kansas coach Les Miles said. “The issue was you can’t turn the ball over. You turn the ball over like that, you’re not going to win games.”
After picking off MacVittie on the game’s opening series, the Chanticleers ran nine out of 10 times in barreling 62 yards for their first touchdown. Kansas fumbled the ball right back two plays later, and McCall threw a touchdown pass to defensive tackle C.J. Brewer in a call that even fooled their own radio announcers.
The Chanticleers followed a punt by Kansas with a third consecutive TD drive. This time, they took advantage of a personal foul penalty, an offsides call and a pass interference penalty by hapless Kansas to extend their lead to 21-0.
Coastal Carolina capitalized on another interception to tack on a 25-yard touchdown pass in the final minute of the half.
Miles, trying to build on three wins in his first season, must have had plenty to say in the locker room. The Jayhawks didn’t run out of the tunnel until there was less than a minute left before the second-half kickoff.
The pep talk appeared to work, and Kansas trimmed its deficit to 28-17 heading into the fourth quarter. But McCall hit tight end Isaiah Likely with two long passes to set up the touchdown that clinched the game.
“It’s not something that one guy has to fix. It’s something the team has to take ownership of,” Miles said, “and I think there are some sick people right now because it was certainly a game that could have gone another way.”
Coastal Carolina looked a lot more like Palmetto State powerhouse Clemson than a school playing just its third season as a full-fledged FBS member. The Chanticleers had three sacks, 10 tackles for loss and dominated the line of scrimmage.
Kansas: Things were so embarrassing for the Jayhawks that nobody seemed to blink when MacVittie entered the game with his name misspelled on the back of his jersey. It was missing the second “i.”
Kansas, which confirmed three positive COVID-19 tests this week, had nearly 40 players that did not dress for undisclosed reasons. Starting wide receiver Stephon Robinson Jr. and top tight end Jack Luavasa were among them.
Coastal Carolina plays its home opener Friday night against Campbell. The game was added less than a month ago to give the Chanticleers an 11-game schedule. The Fighting Camels lost to Georgia Southern earlier Saturday.
Kansas has a week off before starting Big 12 play Sept. 26 at Baylor. The Bears, whose opener was scuttled when Louisiana Tech had a COVID-19 outbreak, open their season in a hastily scheduled game against Houston next Saturday.