Defense shines in Coastal Carolina spring game

(STATS) - It's only April, of course, but Coastal Carolina must have liked some of the early results under new defensive coordinator Mickey Matthews on Saturday.

The defense held the upper hand in the Chanticleers' annual spring game at Brooks Stadium in Conway, South Carolina.

Safety Richie Sampson, a fifth-year senior, tied for a game-high five tackles and had an interception of junior quarterback Tyler Keene, who led the first-team offense. Fitz Wattley also had five tackles and the defense combined on six sacks.

The Chants are playing their final FCS season as an independent before heading to the Sun Belt Conference on the FBS level in 2017. Matthews, the former James Madison coach, was hired in early January to help lead the way.

Coach Joe Moglia will have a veteran team with 62 returning lettermen, but the Chants are looking to replace three-year quarterback Alex Ross, who set nearly all of the school's single-season and career records.

Keane completed 7 of 15 passes for 41 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Chris Jones. Redshirt freshman Austin Bradley, who led the second-team offense, was 8 of 13 for 58 yards.

Moglia also will look to sophomore Josh Stilley, who had shoulder surgery last fall but participated in most of the spring practices, and redshirt freshman Chance Thrasher, who is coming off a foot injury, to fill the quarterback position this season.

All-America running back De'Angelo Henderson carried the ball seven times for 21 yards.

Coastal, which finished 9-3 and No. 16 in the STATS FCS Top 25 last year, is allowed to play a 12-game schedule as it transitions out of the FCS. The Chants are only playing FCS opponents and will open the 2016 season Sept. 3 at Lamar.

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