Gardner-Webb will fly to New York Saturday to battle No. 10 Stony Brook (6-1, 2-0 Big South) at 4:00 pm in Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on WGWG-FM (88.3 / wgwg.org), with the Voice of the Runnin’ Bulldogs Fabian Fuentes and Matt Clark providing the call. The Big South Network (bigsouthsports.com) will also carry the game.
SCOUTING STONY BROOK
Stony Brook (6-1, 2-0 Big South) has firmly established itself as a national championship contender in 2012, posting a dominant combination of numbers across the board through seven games. The Seawolves rank in the top-10 nationally in passing efficiency (1st, 183.38), fifth in rushing offense (5th, 296.0), total offense (7th, 469.9), scoring offense (8th, 39.1) and fewest sacks allowed (7th, 0.71). The defense ranks 12th in scoring defense (16.3 ppg), 14th in pass defense (164.9) and 28th in total defense (328.1) – despite having played a pair of FBS opponents already in 2012. Overall, Stony Brook leads the Big South in 12 team statistical categories (of 17). Running back Miguel Maysonet (160.2 yards per game) ranks No. 3 nationally and has scored 11 touchdowns on the ground. The Hofstra transfer set a new Big South career rushing mark in less than three full seasons in the league. Quarterback Kyle Essington has 14 touchdowns and just four interceptions in seven games, tossing five against Charleston Southern in the Seawolves’ last home game.
Stony Brook has won three in a row to take a 3-1 series lead ... Gardner-Webb is 1-1 in two meetings on Long Island, rallying to win the first meeting, 34-33, on November 1, 2008 ... SBU has scored an eye-popping 76 points off of 17 Gardner-Webb turnovers in the last three meetings ... GWU has 13 turnovers against Stony Brook the past two seasons, helping the Seawolves average 65.5 points per game in those contests ... SBU broke open a competitive game in the third quarter last season to win 76-28 in Boiling Springs ... The Seawolves won 55-3 on Long Island in 2010.
Gardner-Webb head coach Ron Dickerson, Jr., is in his second season in charge of the Runnin’ Bulldogs and holds a 5-12 career record with the Runnin’ Bulldogs. Stony Brook head coach Chuck Priore has an 82-41 career record as a college head coach and has turned the Stony Brook program around with a 43-32 mark in his seventh season.
ESPN3 IN 2K12
Gardner-Webb will make four appearances on ESPN3 in 2012, having already played on the network’s broadband video channel twice (at Pittsburgh, at Liberty). GWU will play on ESPN3 again on November 3 against Coastal Carolina as the Big South Game of the Week and again on November 10 at Charleston Southern. Both games are set for 1:30 pm starts.
Running back Juanne Blount (5-9, 205, RSo.) has been a dangerous weapon out of Gardner-Webb’s “Bulldog” direct snap formation. The Wingate, N.C., native has rushed for five touchdowns this season – all out of the Bulldog – including two in each of the past two games. His 32-yard dash against MidAmerica Nazarene was the longest gain on the ground this season for Gardner-Webb. Blount had a touchdown pass called back out of the formation against Samford (9/22). He was a standout triple-option quarterback at Forest Hills (N.C.) High, accounting for 102 touchdowns during his prep career – and setting the Union County career rushing mark.
RED HOT HALF
Quarterback Lucas Beatty (6-2, 220, RSo.) was sizzling in the first half against Liberty (10/6). He completed 6-of-6 passes for 119 yards and a score in the first quarter alone and finished the first half by going 16-of-17 for 301 yards. Beatty connected on his first three passes in the second half to push Gardner-Webb’s lead to 28-10 and commanded a 71-yard touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter to help GWU regain a 35-28 lead after Liberty pulled even. By game’s end, he had a Big South single-game record for completion percentage (84.4%) that included one stretch of 13-straight completions. Beatty finished the game with 383 yards – a new career high.
Over the past three games, Gardner-Webb has seen a total of seven true freshmen start on offense and defense. Offensively, right guard Dylan Hopper (6-4, 295) and receiver Carlton Heard (6-0, 178) have been regulars in the lineup. Defensively, cornerback Tiko Thompson (5-8, 148), safety Brandon Swayze (6-2, 190), tackle O.J. Mau (6-2, 275) and linebacker Azziz Higgins (6-2, 225) have made starts – with Thompson, Swayze and Higgins each in the lineup at Liberty (10/6). Jonathan Sherrill (6-3, 196) made his first career start vs. MidAmerica Nazarene.
OFFENSIVE LINE A STRONG GROUP
Gardner-Webb returns six players with starting experience on the offensive line for the 2012 season. Five of those men are seniors: Right tackle Steve Demilio (6-5, 293, RSr.-3L); right guard Aaron Huck (6-3, 296, RSr.-1L); center Austin Sargent (6-3, 302, Sr.-3L); left guard Jamie Dunaway (6-3, 290, Sr.-3L) and left tackle Harrison Martin (6-6, 285, Gr.-3L). Right guard Jeff Harris (6-2, 292, RJr.-2L) is entering his fourth season in the program. David McConnell (6-5, 304, RSo.) and Dylan Hopper (6-4, 295, Fr.) each started the season’s first four games, with Harris and Martin each coming off the bench.
D-LINE DEEPLY SEASONED
The Runnin’ Bulldogs have a wealth of experienced depth in the defensive trenches in 2012. Five players have starting experience and seven have played extensively during their time in Boiling Springs to date. Tackle Matt Goods (6-2, 275, RJr.-2L) and end Preston Pemasa (6-2, 257, Jr.-2L) have earned All-Big South honors in each of their two seasons so far and both were named Big South Freshman of the Year in their respective rookie seasons. Versatile dual-threat linemen Tyler Hough-Jenkins (6-4, 281, RSo.-1L) and Maurice Dickson (6-4, 265, Jr.-2L) have experience at both tackle and end. Tackles Dylan Taylor (6-0, 255, Gr.-3L) and Maurice Bryan (6-2, 271, Gr.-3L) are both graduate students with three years experience, with Taylor earning multiple starts over the past two seasons. Youngsters Shaquille Riddick (6-7, 235, So.-1L) and O.J. Le’iauta Mau (6-2, 275, Fr.-HS) will also continue to log snaps.
Redshirt sophomore Kenny Cook (6-4, 216) has been a bright spot for Gardner-Webb in the passing game so far in 2012, hauling in 24 passes for 322 yards and a touchdown. Against Liberty (10/6), Cook caught seven balls for a career-high 147 yards, including a 46-yard grab that set up Gardner-Webb’s third touchdown of the game. Cook is averaging 13.4 yards per catch, and ranks No. 7 in the league in receptions per game.
TOUGH EARLY SLATE
Four of Gardner-Webb’s first five FCS opponents are among the top-35 nationally this week, with Wofford (No. 8) and Stony Brook (No. 10) each earning spots in the Sports Network/Fathead top-25 media poll. Samford has been ranked twice already this season in the top-25, and fell to 28th in votes received after a three-point loss to No. 12 Appalachian State last week. A fourth team, Richmond, is 35th in votes received this week after another narrow league loss in the CAA.
HAVE YOU HEARD?
Gardner-Webb redshirt freshman Carlton Heard (6-0, 178) was named Big South Conference Freshman of the Week following a stellar performance at Liberty in both teams’ league opener (10/6). Heard caught seven passes for 137 yards and a touchdown, taking the Bulldogs’ opening snap 54 yards to paydirt for an early lead. He had five catches for 115 yards by halftime, and hauled in a 15-yarder to start the second half and set up another touchdown that pushed GWU to a 28-10 lead. Heard ranks fifth in the Big South with 4.8 receptions per game this season.
MONSTER IN THE MIDDLE
In his first six starts as a collegiate middle linebacker, Tanner Burch (6-3, 242, So.) has been sensational. The Savannah, Ga., native was named Big South Conference Defensive Player of the Week for the second time following Gardner-Webb’s win over MidAmerica Nazarene (10/13) after posting new career highs in total tackles (18), solo tackles (10) and tackles for loss (2.0). Burch’s stop in the backfield on fourth-and-inches in the fourth quarter gave Gardner-Webb the ball back at the MNU 30-yard line with just 1:11 remaining – a drive that resulted in the game-winning touchdown for GWU. Burch has collected at least 10 tackles in five of his six starts to date, and leads the Big South Conference with 77 hits. Burch ranks No. 2 nationally with 12.8 tackles per game in 2012 and is on pace to finish with 142 total stops. The school’s single season record for tackles in a season is 152 – set by Hall of Famer Raymond Jennings in 1992 (14 games).
CRAN-FILLING THE STAT SHEET
Gardner-Webb’s Seth Cranfill (6-4, 230, RSo.) is on track to become the most prolific receiving tight end that Gardner-Webb has seen in a season, currently sitting just five catches off of Jason Bright’s single-season school mark of 32 receptions set in 2001. Cranfill added to his already impressive start with seven catches for 75 yards and a pair of key scores vs. MidAmerica Nazarene – hauling in the game winner on a fade route with 6.4 seconds left. Cranfill established the Big South’s single-game record for a tight end against Samford (9/22), catching nine passes, and has a team-high 27 catches for 228 yards and two scores in 2012.
NO MORE LIGHTS
Gardner-Webb will play its final five games in 2012 during daylight hours, and statistically that might be good news for the GWU offense. In two day games against FCS foes so far in 2012, GWU is averaging 461.5 yards of total offense and 29.0 ppg. In its night games against FCS foes, the ‘Dogs are averaging just 241 yards per game and 6.5 ppg.
Gardner-Webb has developed a nice pipeline to the west coast in recent years, dating back to 2007 NFL Draft selection Brian Johnston (San Diego, Calif.). This season, the Runnin’ Bulldogs have 12 players who call California their home state, the most from the Golden State since the program made the jump to NCAA Division I in 2000. Of that dozen, nine were listed on the 2012 preseason two-deep.
PRESEASON NATIONAL HONORS
Gardner-Webb players collected several preseason honors, with kicker Trever Austin the most widely noted. Austin (5-10, 194, So.-1L) was named to the Fred Mitchell Award Watch List, the College Football Performance Awards Watch List and was an honorable mention All-America selection by Beyond Sports Network. Jamie Dunaway earned second-team All-America honors from Beyond Sports Network, and Preston Pemasa was named to the College Football Performance Awards Watch list at defensive end for the second preseason in a row. Gardner-Webb has had at least one preseason All-America since 2002.
THIS WEEK’S BIG SOUTH CONFERENCE GAMES
Saturday, October 20
Presbyterian at Charleston Southern, 1:30 * (ESPN3)
Coastal Carolina at VMI, 1:30 * (Big South Network)
Concord at Liberty, 3:30 (Flames Sports Network / Big South Network)
Gardner-Webb at #10 Stony Brook, 4:00 * (Big South Network)
ON THE AIR
Gardner-Webb’s football games this season can be heard live on WGWG-FM (88.3), the school’s 50,000-watt flagship station. Fabian Fuentes will provide the play-by-play call all season, with David Allen providing color at home and Matt Clark serving in that role on the road. Log onto to wgwg.org for a live audio stream via the internet as well.
THE RON DICKERSON, JR., RADIO SHOW
Every Monday night at 7:00 pm, Fabian Fuentes and Ron Dickerson, Jr., will host the Ron Dickerson, Jr., Coaches Show on WGWG-FM (88.3 / wgwg.org). The show will broadcast live from the Tucker Student Center on campus and is open to the public.
Gardner-Webb begins a stretch of three home games in its final four dates next Saturday, hosting VMI at 1:30 pm in Ernest W. Spangler Stadium. The game is part of Homecoming 2012 activities, and will air live on WGWG-FM (88.3 / wgwg.org), as well as the Big South Network (bigsouthsports.com). †