@GWUFootball Uses Big Play To Pull Away From Presbyterian, 24-3, In Big South Opener

Jeff Sochko Photo  |  GWUPhotos.com
Jeff Sochko Photo | GWUPhotos.com

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BOILING SPRINGS – Tyrell Maxwell posted total 377 yards Saturday night, including an 89-yard touchdown run to lead Gardner-Webb to a 24-3 win over Presbyterian in both teams' Big South Conference opener.

Gardner-Webb (3-3, 1-0 Big South) averaged 9.4 yards per play in the game, with Maxwell directing an offensive attack that totaled 519 yards. The Cordova, S.C., junior completed 7-of-12 passes for 222 yards and a score and ran 11 times for 155 yards and a touchdown.

"We got some plays over the top and broke some long runs, which is not usually our strength, but [offensive coordinator Brett] Nichols and the offensive staff did a good job looking at coverages throughout the week and we took advantage when the opportunities where there," said head coach Carroll McCray. "Presbyterian made some adjustments and we stalled there a little bit. Their coaches do a good job of getting their kids in the right place. We had some skill guys step up and make some plays tonight and that was good to see."

After Gardner-Webb's defense held on fourth down at its own 31 to halt the Blue Hose (1-4, 0-1 Big South) on the game's opening drive, Maxwell came out firing. He found speedster Kyle Horton over the top on play action, and the pair connected on a 74-yard scoring strike for a 7-0 lead with 10:03 left in the first quarter.

Maxwell set up another score with the long ball on Gardner-Webb's next possession, finding tight end Mike Estes downfield – again on play action – for a 64-yard gain to the Blue Hose 20. Presbyterian stiffened in the red zone, and Paul Schumacher's field goal from 30 yards out gave the 'Dogs a 10-0 led with 5:17 left in the first.

GWU marched inside the Presbyterian five-yard line late in the second quarter with a chance to go up by three scores, but the ball came loose as Khalil Lewis stretched for the end zone and the Blue Hose recovered for a touchback.

Presbyterian drove all the way down to the Gardner-Webb two just before the half, but a sack by P.J. Fuimaono and a tackle for loss from Jaylan Foster stuffed the drive and forced the Blue Hose to take – and make – a short field goal to cut the lead to 10-3 at the break.

Neither team could put together a scoring drive for much of the third quarter, but Maxwell took off on a read option keep late in the quarter – and outran the Blue Hose 89 yards for a 17-3 lead with 2:38 on the third quarter clock.

Gardner-Webb's defense clamped down further in the fourth quarter and the Runnin' Bulldogs put the game away with an 11-play, 87-yard drive that was capped by Lewis' 10th rushing touchdown of the season. The Hilton Head, S.C., sophomore scored from one-yard out with 4:35 on the clock for the final score of the night.

Lewis joined Maxwell over 100 yards on the night, running for 106 yards on 22 carries – as GWU ran for 297 yards on just 43 attempts as a team. The 377 offensive yards for Maxwell marked a career-high total, as did his 222 passing yards.

Maxwell hit Horton three times for 131 yards and found Estes twice for 80 yards.

Chad Geter led a stout defensive effort with 10 total tackles. GWU held the Blue Hose to 234 total yards (110 rushing) and a combined 6-of-20 on third and fourth down conversions.

Aaron Cook (eight total tackles, 1.5 TFL), Jaylan Foster (seven solo stops, 2.0 TFL) and Corey Horne (seven total tackles) were among the defensive leaders for Gardner-Webb Saturday night.

The Blue Hose were led by Darrell Bridges' 67 rushing yards on 19 carries. Quarterback Ben Cheek completed 17-of-29 passes for 124 yards, but was sacked three times.

Linebacker Grant Beidel posted a career-high 11 total tackles (seven solo) to pace the Blue Hose defense.

Gardner-Webb remains at home for the third week in a row, hosting No. 14 Coastal Carolina at 1:30 pm on Saturday, October 15. Presbyterian hosts Monmouth on Thursday night at 7:00 pm.