Gardner-Webb (2-8, 1-4 Big South) led 10-7 heading into the fourth quarter, but saw the Buccaneers (5-5, 3-2 Big South) snap a three-game series losing streak by running for 178 yards and three touchdowns in the final 15 minutes - breaking open what had been a defensive struggle through three quarters.
The game marked the second weekend in a row that the Runnin' Bulldogs had been outscored 21-0 in the fourth quarter.
Early on, neither team could find get in sync offensively, with both defensive units disrupting progress with regularity.
Charleston Southern overcame a slow start offensively to go 78 yards in just seven plays to take the initial lead, with free safety Elijah Lee coming into the game to score on a 10-yard reverse with 9:08 to play before halftime. Defensive end Will Hunt had a 15-yard reception on fourth and short moments earlier to keep the drive alive.
The Bucs had just 24 yards offensively before their first scoring drive.
Neither team had much success the rest of the half offensively and Gardner-Webb took advantage of a muffed punt by Charles James to set up its first score of the afternoon. The 47-yard Bo Lindsey punt was mishandled and recovered by Anthony Lyons at the Bucs' 22-yard line.
GWU was limited to 109 yards of total offense in the opening half, and the Gardner-Webb defense held Charleston Southern to just 106 yards - only 51 of those coming on the ground.
Gardner-Webb took advantage of a short field after an exchange of punts to start the third quarter, with Trever Austin connecting on a 22-yard field goal with 7:10 to play in the period.
Charleston Southern finally broke a big run to reclaim the lead early in the fourth quarter, with quarterback Malcolm DIxon squirting free on a keeper and racing 69 yards untouched for the score and a 14-10 lead for the hosts with 14:04 to play in the game.
Disaster struck on the ensuing possesion, as Austin Wald picked off a pass on third down and it to the Gardner-Webb 15. Dixon took the first down snap and rambled untouched into the end zone to extend the Bucs' lead to 21-10 with 12:09 left.
Another interception in GWU territory sealed the win, as Charles James returned the ball to the 39-yard line. Teddy Allen rumbled up the middle 31 yards for a touchdown on third and short with 2:47 left on the game clock for the final score of the day.
Gardner-Webb had its lowest offensive output of the season against an FCS foe, totaling just 207 yards on 67 plays. Beatty finished 11-of-33 for 101 yards and a score, with seven early drops hindering production.
Little led the ground game, totaling 57 of Gardner-Webb's 92 yards on 18 carries. Deonte Swinton (three catches, 33 yards), Little (two catches, 24 yards) and Seth Cranfill (two catches, 21 yards) paced the receiving corps. Cranfill became the Big South Conference's leader in single-season receptions with his performance, and has 36 catches on the season.
Bo Lindsey was busy punting the football, averaging 42.2 yards on nine attempts with a career-long 68 yarder. Lonnie Johnson posted a career-high 12 total tackles (eight solo), three tackles for loss and two sacks from his strong safety spot.
GWU played Saturday's game without the league's leading tackler, Tanner Burch, who was held out with an injury.
Charleston Southern finished the game with 333 total yards on 55 plays - collecting 212 of those yards in the final 15 minutes. The Bucs had 243 yards on the ground, with Allen leading the way by gaining 107 yards on 16 carries. Dixon overcame some early sacks to finish with 10 carries for 56 yards, and completed 7-of-10 passes for 90 yards. Larry Jones III led the receiving effort with four catches for 55 yards - three going for first downs.
Gardner-Webb will close outs its season on Saturday, November 17, at 1:30 pm against Presbyterian in Ernest W. Spangler Stadium. The game will serve as Senior Day, as well as Military Appreciation Day.