GAINESVILLE, Fla. (BP)–After losing 62-3 to the Florida Gators, the coach of Baptist-affiliated Charleston Southern Buccaneers nevertheless gave a positive report.
“We hope to glorify God in all that we do, and I think we did that this weekend,” CSU head coach Jay Mills said. “The scoreboard is just one measure of success, and even though we were on the short end of that, we felt like a lot of good things came out of this game.”
Mills, in his comments to the university’s sports information office, noted, “We came close to achieving a lot of things that we wanted to offensively, although we are obviously disappointed we couldn’t get in the end zone.”
Indeed, Charleston Southern was able to move the ball against the No. 1 Gators at the Swamp in Gainesville, Fla., tallying 18 first downs and 323 total yards, including 206 yards in the first half (170 through the air) — against a Florida defense with 11 returning starters.
CSU also dominated the time of possession at 37:34, holding the ball for a total of 23:00 in the first and fourth quarters.
The Buccaneers’ lone score came on a 38-yard field goal by John Paglia in the second quarter.
Mills told the Courier & Post newspaper in Charleston, “This whole experience was such a blessing. There is so much we can build on with this game. I’m excited for our players that they had this opportunity and proud that they never flinched.” Mills is a former offensive teams coach at Harvard and Boise State.
CSU quarterback A.J. Toscano, competing one play shy of three quarters of the game, finished 18-31 through the air for 152 yards with one interception. He also rushed six times, gaining 21 yards. Andrew Trudnowski played the fourth quarter, going 9-17 for 45 yards. Kwame Krakue hauled in six passes for 63 yards, while Alex Neal caught seven passes for 45 yards. Gerald Stevenson and B.J. Hackworth carried the ball for 21 yards each. Andy Brown, in eight punts, averaged 37.8 yards.
Gator quarterback Tim Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, finished the game 10-15 for 188 yards and one touchdown, averaging 12.5 yards per throw. He only carried the ball twice for a touchdown and a one-yard gain. The big-play Gator offense used 19 plays of 20 yards or more to amass 624 yards of offense. Florida also had an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Toscano, in just his second game for CSU, said the team “had a lot of fun playing this game. We never want to lose, but our offense will come out of this game very confident…. This was a great experience for a lot of guys, including me, who had never been involved in a game of this magnitude.”
The Courier & Post newspaper reported that CSU earned $450,000 for their venture to Florida. The game was televised on Fox Sports Network.
Wofford is next on the Buccaneers’ schedule, Sept. 12 in Spartanburg, S.C.
CSU had a 7-5 record in 2008 in the Big South Conference and a 68-127 record since its founding in 1964. The university won the Big South championship in 2005.
Charleston Southern, affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention, has an enrollment of 3,200 students.
Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston.