@GWUFootball Runs Past Elon, 31-6, On The Road In Season Opener

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ELON, N.C. – Tyrell Maxwell and Khalil Lewis each topped 100 yards rushing to lead Gardner-Webb to a 31-6 win in its season opener at Elon Saturday.

Lewis had a career-high 109 yards on 23 carries and scored three touchdowns on the ground – with two in the decisive third quarter.

Maxwell finished with 154 yards and a score on 21 carries, and passed for 102 yards, to direct at Gardner-Webb offense that finished with 327 yards on the ground and 436 yards of total offense.

It marked the first time since an October 12, 2002, win over Elon that two GWU rushers had topped the 100-yard mark in the same game against a Division I opponent. It was the first time Gardner-Webb had gone over 300 yards in a game on the ground since rushing for 321 yards in a 47-21 win over Presbyterian on October 18, 2008.

"We made some mistakes in the first half that killed some drives offensively and got out of position a little bit defensively," said head coach Carroll McCray. "Elon is a good football team and had a good plan. We made a few adjustments offensively with some things on the perimeter that we wanted to see and our guys really played hard and executed what we asked them to do.

"We needed somebody to go with our quarterback. We needed an inside runner to start showing up and I think Khalil Lewis did that. Its difficult to go on the road and win in college football. We are excited to head back with a victory under our belts."

The score was tied, 3-3, at the half. Gardner-Webb (1-0) took control of the game in the third quarter, rushing for 152 yards in that 15-minute stretch as a team. The Runnin' Bulldogs ran for 241 yards in the second half.

Early on, neither team could get much going – as both moved the football between the 20s and traded punts over the first 26 minutes. Gardner-Webb finally got on the board when field position tilted its way.

A short punt set the 'Dogs up in Elon (0-1) territory for the first time. An eight-yard run by Lewis on third down moved the chains to the Phoenix 24-yard line. After a pair of short runs, Maxwell hooked up with Mike Estes on a 13-yard gain down to the six, but a false start penalty on third down pushed the 'Dogs back and forced a 25-yard field goal from Paul Schumacher that gave GWU a 3-0 lead with 3:24 left before the half.

The Runnin' Bulldogs forced a quick punt and got the ball back with just over a minute to play, but a hard hit on Elijah Perry after a short completion jarred the ball loose and Elon recovered with plenty of time at the GWU 47-yard line.

Quarterback Connor Christiansen directed a scoring drive from there, but the Phoenix were held to a field goal when Josh Carter knocked down a third-down pass in the end zone with seven seconds left before half. John Gallagher was good on a 20-yard field goal to tie the game heading into intermission.

Gardner-Webb came out of the locker room and started a deliberate march downfield, keyed by Maxwell's 28-yard keeper down the right sideline – a play that set up first-and-goal at the one. Lewis finished off the drive with his first career touchdown on the next play for a two-score lead.

The drive covered 65 yards on six plays and took just 2:24 off the game clock.

Gardner-Webb forced a punt on its next defensive possession, but Maxwell was picked off on first down to give Elon the ball back inside the 35. A first-down rush moved the chains to the 24-yard line for the Phoenix before GWU held and forced a 39-yard field goal by Gallagher that cut the lead to 10-6 with 10:01 on the third quarter clock.

Maxwell marched the Runnin' Bulldogs down the field again to answer.

Jonathan Blackmon started the drive with a 13-yard run on first down and Lewis followed with a six-yard run to the Gardner-Webb 43-yard line. Facing 3rd-and-2, Maxwell kept on an option play around the left side and outran the defense for a 34-yard gain down to the 21-yard line.

One play later, Maxwell connected with Blackmon for a 14-yard gain and – after a procedure penalty – Lewis capped the drive with an eight-yard touchdown run. The PAT pushed the lead to 17-6 with 6:24 left in the quarter.

Gardner-Webb took over once again after forcing another Elon punt with 4:05 left in the third.

Lewis carried twice for 13 yards to get the drive started and Maxwell converted a third-down pass to Estes to the GWU 39. Blackmon darted for 12 yards on first down – and was hit out of bounds after the play – to give Gardner-Webb the ball at the Elon 30 as the third quarter came to a close.

Maxwell ran for a 15-yard gain down to the Elon six on third down – and finished the drive himself three plays later with a four-yard scamper into the end zone. Schumacher's extra point gave GWU a 24-6 lead with 11:43 left in the game.

After Elon's seventh punt of the game, Gardner-Webb marched 66 yards on 11 plays (5:38) for another touchdown. Lewis did the honors again, rumbling 19 yards around right end for the score with 3:24 left in the game.

The Phoenix hit a 30-yard pass play on its next drive to get into the red zone, but Kenyatta Dunbar stepped in front of a Daniel Thompson pass and returned the pick 15 yards out to the GWU 25 with 1:42 on the clock.

Gardner-Webb ran out the clock from there to pick up its first win at Elon since 1992.

The Runnin' Bulldogs were efficient, converting 8-of-13 on third down (62%) and finishing a perfect 5-for-5 in the red zone.

Maxwell completed 12-of-19 passes for 102 yards to keep the Phoenix defense honest, targeting Mike Estes four times for 37 yards. Blackmon finished with three catches for 33 yards and ran six times for 36 yards.

Dunbar led the defense with eight total hits (six solo) and his interception, leading a defense that allowed just 271 total yards (59 rushing). GWU held a sizable 37:42 to 22:18 edge in possession time.

Elon played two quarterbacks, with Christiansen passing for 108 yards and Thompson throwing for 104. Five different Elon receivers caught at least four balls.

Gardner-Webb remains on the road next week, traveling to face SoCon contender Western Carolina in Cullowhee. Kickoff is set for 6:00 pm.