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  • Natalie Corson

CCU Chanticleers win second consecutive Cure Bowl appearance

Coastal Carolina hybrid safety/linebacker Enock Makonzo tackling Northern Illinois Miles Joiner. Photo courtesy of Natalie Corson.

(Dec. 19, 2021 – Orlando, FL) This year Coastal Carolina played their Tailgreeter Cure Bowl at Exploria stadium on Dec. 17, against Northern Illinois University Huskies, and won with a score of 47-41.

The 2021-22 college bowl season features 82 teams in 41 matches. This was CCU’s first bowl victory, and the Chant’s second consecutive Cure Bowl appearance. CCU Head Coach, Jamey Chadwell said they helped raise $3.8 million for cancer research and this was the team’s first opportunity to experience a bowl week.

“This was a tremendous honor for us to represent the Sun Belt Conference and play in a prestigious bowl game, raising money for breast cancer,” Chadwell said. “This is our second year in a row here, but this is the first time that we were able to experience the full bowl week.”

Efforts and activities during the bowl week included student visits to Universal Studios, and a valuable public service hunger prevention project. The team was accompanied by the band and dance team so parades, a pep rally for fans, and a battle of the college bands rounded out other activities before the Chants’ victory.

But with all of the collegiate athletic activities, two-time breast cancer survivor and Cure Bowl volunteer, Amy Perry, said the Tailgreeter Cure Bowl was “more than a game.” as the competitors’ efforts helped sponsor, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, raise and donate important funds for cancer research and treatment.

At Wednesday’s opening press conference, both Coastal Carolina and Northern Illinois players shared how cancer has affected their lives. Coastal Carolina’s linebacker, Teddy Gallagher said playing in the Cure Bowl is a big deal to him.

“Cancer has affected everyone. My dad is a cancer survivor, obviously, this means a lot to me,” Gallagher said. “The Cure Bowl is amazing for what it does for cancer research and I am very proud to be able to play in it.”

Northern Illinois linebacker James Ester talked about losing his best friend at 10 years old to brain cancer and how breast cancer has affected his family.

“Finding a cure for cancer is a big thing for me. Also, my grandmother is a breast cancer survivor. This is a huge deal for her. I want to go out there and be able to play for them,” Ester said.

Cure Bowl Founder, Megan Dowdy, said she was excited for the athletes, but knew the game meant much more.

“We’re doing this as a reward for the student-athletes, but there’s a much bigger scope and goal in mind which is to raise as much money as we can for breast cancer research,” Dowdy said.

After a pitched battle between the competitors marked by multiple lead changes, CCU used a goal-line stop as the time expired to defeat Northern Illinois. Coastal Carolina Quarterback, Grayson McCall was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after he totaled a Cure Bowl record of four touchdowns during the game. Senior linebacker, Silas Kelly forced a fumble in the 4th quarter that helped shift the momentum to Coastal’s favor.

But even with the victory, cancer research was a consistent theme throughout the evening. At his post-game press conference, Chadwell said “we all know cancer and how it impacts this world…it (has) impacted our team personally in a lot of ways.”

Chadwell revealed that one Coastal player had lost his father the week before the game to cancer and in a display of incredible dedication, the player “flew home from Orlando to attend the funeral and then flew back the same day for the bowl game.”

"For us to be able to help bring awareness and raise money for trying to find a cure, I don’t know if there is anything better than that…anytime you can use sport to impact in a positive way is important and especially something as devastating as cancer can be…,” Chadwell said.

The 2021 Tailgreeter Cure Bowl game marks the first bowl game win for Coastal Carolina, but in its entirety, the bowl week event was “more than just a game.”

WCCU program director Natalie Corson with contributions from WCCU sports director Terrance O’Sullivan and reporter/analyst Bennett Ferguson.

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