BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall, the three-time Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year who entered the transfer portal this month but remained with the Chanticleers for the Birmingham Bowl, was injured Tuesday night in a 53-29 loss to East Carolina.
On what will presumably be McCall’s final play in a Coastal Carolina uniform, the quarterback authored a 9-yard touchdown run. He was hit while tumbling into the end zone and never returned to the game.
Chanticleers interim coach Chad Staggs, in his postgame news conference, said he didn’t know the exact nature of the injury other than to say it was “upper body.”
Jarrett Guest replaced McCall in the first half and played most of the second. McCall’s scoring run gave Coastal Carolina (9-4) a 14-10 lead. By halftime, though, the Chanticleers were in a 24-14 hole.
For the Pirates (8-5), Holton Ahlers stole the show, throwing a Birmingham Bowl-record five touchdown passes and accounted for a game-record six scores. Ahlers, selected the game MVP, threw for 300 yards on 26-of-38 passing, rushed for 37 yards and a touchdown and caught a pass for 14 yards for the Pirates.
McCall, who missed three games with an injury late in the season, played well before the injury. He was 11-of-14 for 75 yards and carried the ball four times for 12 yards. His 25-yard pass to Ivy Turon set up a 1-yard scoring run by Reese White.
He entered the transfer portal earlier this month after a standout career with the Chanticleers. He redshirted in his first season on campus in 2019 but burst onto the scene in 2020, starting as a redshirt freshman. He was a finalist for the Manning Award and a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award. And in addition to his first Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year honor, he was also named the league’s Freshman of the Year and the first-team All-Sun Belt Conference quarterback.
McCall threw for 2,488 yards and 26 touchdowns with three interceptions while rushing for 569 yards and seven touchdowns in 11 games during the 2020 season.
He continued his excellent play in 2021 by throwing for 2,873 yards and 27 touchdowns with three interceptions while also rushing for four touchdowns. He again won the league’s top player award, and was a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award, presented to the best player in college football.
McCall threw for 2,633 yards and 24 touchdowns with two interceptions this season, gaining the league’s top player honor for probably the final time. He has played three seasons but still has two seasons of eligibility left if he decides to use his extra year granted by the NCAA for restrictions from COVID-19 during the 2020 season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.