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BOILING SPRINGS - Newcomer Kenny Cook caught five passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns, and defensive end Shaquille Riddick led an aggressive defensive effort during Gardner-Webb's Spring Game Saturday at Spangler Stadium.

The Runnin' Bulldogs had only three penalties whistled during Saturday's action and showed plenty of energy and focus from start to finish.

"I was pleased with how today went," said head Coach Ron Dickerson, Jr. "These guys have a year with me under their belts now and know what we expect out of them, and I think we saw more of what we are looking for today and this spring. There were times that both sides of the ball looked really good. Offensively we showed some life and our defensive guys kept plugging and got some stops too. As a team I feel like we made very good progress. Now we can work on getting healthy and getting bigger and stronger the rest of the year."

Cook (6-4, 210, RSo.), who transferred to Gardner-Webb from Garden City (Kan.) Community College in January, hauled in a 73-yard pass from Jordan Paul early in the scrimmage, and caught touchdown passes of 24 yards from Paul and 11 yards from Exavier Johnson.

The Clinton, S.C., native was an All-Conference selection in his lone season at Garden City, and will have three seasons to play for the Runnin' Bulldogs. Cook was an All-State selection at Clinton (S.C.) High, and earned SCADA North/South All-Star Game spots in both football and basketball as a prep senior.

Riddick (6-7, 230, So.) has been a topic of notable excitement around the program this spring, beginning to mold his considerable potential into tangible results on the field. The Akron, Ohio, native led the team with nine tackles, a disruptive five tackles for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble Saturday.

All-Big South kicker Trever Austin (5-10, 190, So.) showcased his usual leg strength and accuracy, connecting on all four of his PAT attempts and going 3-for-3 on field goals with makes of 33, 35 and 52 yards.

Gardner-Webb used four quarterbacks Saturday, with Paul (6-3, 180, So.), Chandler Browning (6-3, 225, RJr.) and Exavier Johnson (6-3, 200, Sr.) seeing much of the action. Paul, a dual-threat quarterback from Brooklyn, N.Y., started the day with the first unit, and finished 5-of-10 for 123 yards, one touchdown and an interception on a long throw downfield.

Browning finished the day 6-of-9 for 144 yards, including a 95-yard scoring pass to Ricky Rhodes. Browning also ran for a touchdown on a quarterback sneak.

Johnson completed three of his passes on the afternoon, hitting Cook on an 11-yard score to close out his day. Nat Dunlap (6-2, 175, RFr.) also saw action under center, completing 2-of-3 passes for 37 yards.

The Runnin' Bulldogs gave All-Big South running back Kenny Little (5-11, 220, RSr.) the ball nine times, and the Flanders, N.J., native responded by barreling and sprinting his way to 64 yards. J.J. Hubbard carried 14 times for 42 yards and a three-yard touchdown during the short yardage portion of the scrimmage.

In addition to Cook's big day receiving, Gardner-Webb had nine different receivers haul in at least one pass. Carlton Heard (5-11, 175, RFr.) caught four passes for 39 yards, Stanley Fleurant (6-3, 185, RFr.) caught one pass for 26 yards and Rhodes had his 95-yard catch and sprint to the end zone. Five other players, including tight ends Hudson Smith (1 catch, 9 yards) and Albert Doyle (1 catch, 7 yards) had one catch in the scrimmage.

Riddick had the day's most impressive numbers on defense, but was far from that unit's only bright spot.  Linebacker Brian Wittenberger (6-2, 225, RJr.) had seven tackles and a tackle for loss after an injury sidelined him for 2011. Running mates Bradley Taylor (6-1, 225, So.) and Tanner Burch (6-3, 230, So.) also had strong afternoons, with Taylor collecting six hits and three tackles for loss and Burch making five stops and returning a fumble 50 yards during red zone drills.

Defensive lineman Maurice Dickson had five hits, a pair of tackles for loss and a sack up front. Cornerbacks Ivan Toomer (6-1, 185, So.) and Keon Williams (6-0, 175, Jr.) were solid as well, breaking up two passes each. Safety Gianni Olivas (5-10, 190, Jr.) had three hits, broke up a pass and picked off the defense's lone interception of the day.

All told, the Gardner-Webb defense recorded 12 tackles for loss and four sacks in the game. A dozen players collected at least three tackles.

Gardner-Webb will wrap up spring practice with a pair of sessions early next week. The Runnin' Bulldogs open the 2012 regular season on Saturday, September 1, at home vs. Wofford (6:00 pm kickoff).

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