Coastal Carolina stuns Montana

Missoula, MT ( - All the talk about Coastal Carolina not being able to handle the single-digits temperatures at the University of Montana ...

It turns out the Chanticleers were red hot in the second round of the FCS playoffs Saturday.

Quarterback Alex Ross threw for three first-half touchdowns and had 325 total yards, and Coastal Carolina built a three-touchdown halftime lead en route to a 42-35 victory over eighth-seeded Montana at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

The Chanticleers (12-2), out of the Big South Conference, will next play at top-seeded North Dakota State (12-0) in the quarterfinals next Saturday.

Saturday's first meeting between Coastal Carolina and Montana represented the first time the Chanticleers played outside the Eastern Time Zone. They were met by wind chills near zero degrees, about 50 degrees colder than what was being enjoyed back on their campus in Conway, S.C.

But coach Joe Moglia's Chanticleers had a lot to enjoy while they reversed a 14-7 deficit with four unanswered touchdowns over the final 17 minutes of the first half, building a 35-14 halftime advantage. Ross threw a pair of touchdowns to Niccolo Mastromatteo during the run.

Lorenzo Taliaferro scored on his second touchdown run - a 51-yarder - to push the Chanticleers' lead to 42-21 with 9:33 left in the third quarter.

Montana closed within 42-35 on a pair of Jordan Johnson touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, but Coastal Carolina ran out the final 5:01.

Ross opened Coastal Carolina's scoring with an 86-yard touchdown bomb to DeMario Bennett, which answered Montana's game-opening scoring drive capped by Travon Van's 1-yard run.

Ross, the Big South leader in passing yards and total offense, was 16-for-21 for 202 yards and had 123 yards on 21 carries. Taliaferro added 104 yards on 16 carries.

Montana (10-3) had entered the game as the Big Sky Conference leader in scoring defense at 21.3 points per game, but that number was doubled. The Grizzlies relied on their passing game in the second half and Johnson finished with 388 passing yards and four touchdowns and one interception.

The Grizzlies appeared in the FCS playoffs for the 22nd season, although their NCAA violations during the 2011 season have put their official total at 21.