BOILING SPRINGS – Gardner-Webb held a 7-3 lead at the end of the third quarter, but No. 16 Coastal Carolina scored twice in the final 15 minutes to take a 17-7 win Saturday afternoon in a non-conference battle.
It marked the second time this season that Gardner-Webb (3-4) held a second half lead over a nationally-ranked team. GWU lost a 31-24 heartbreaker to #15 The Citadel on September 17.
The Runnin' Bulldogs used a defensive big play from All-America Chad Geter and emerging freshman sensation Jaylan Foster to take the lead late in the second quarter against Coastal Carolina. Geter stripped Devin Brown on a tunnel screen at the GWU 33-yard line and Foster scooped up the loose ball, darted and danced and sprinted his way for a 51-yard return.
A facemark penalty set Gardner-Webb up at the Chanticleers' eight-yard line with 11 seconds left in the half and Tyrell Maxwell hit Adonus Lee in the corner of the end zone for a score with four seconds left. Paul Schumacher's extra point put the 'Dogs up 7-3 at the break.
Neither team put a score on the board in the third quarter, but the Chanticleers (4-2) finally flipped the field and started to wear down a tired GWU defense near the end of that period. As the fourth quarter started, De'Angelo "Hop" Henderson capped a 56-yard drive that chewed up 4:23 on the game clock – going in from one yard to give the Chanticleers a 10-7 lead with 14:37 to play in the game.
Gardner-Webb went three plays and punted on the ensuing drive, with a sack on first down stunting the possession quickly. Coastal Carolina responded with another time consuming march, taking 5:33 off the clock – and converting on 3rd-and-10 for a touchdown pass from Tyler Keane to Bruce Mapp with 7:37 remaining.
Gardner-Webb got a 15-yard run from Maxwell to convert a first down on its next drive, but went backward from there and punted again – allowing Coastal Carolina to regain possession and run the clock all the way down near the two-minute mark.
Maxwell completed passes of 16 yards to Willie Jackson IV and 37 yards to Khalil Lewis to get Gardner-Webb into the red zone, but was picked off in the end zone with 49 second remaining to end the threat of a late comeback.
Coastal Carolina corralled Gardner-Webb's rushing attack, which had been consistently effective throughout the season. The 'Dogs ran for a season-low 95 yards on 32 carries and managed just 223 yards of total offense – 123 yards below their previous season low of 346 yards at Ohio (9/24).
Lewis led the ground game with 51 yards on 15 carries, but was held out of the end zone for the first time all season. Maxwell finished 12-of-26 for 128 yards, one score and one interception – his first pick since the season opener at Elon.
Mike Estes caught six passes for 44 yards, giving him 104 career receptions.
Freshman safety Devin Mines had a game-high 15 total tackles, a career-high for the former Mallard Creek (N.C.) High standout. Geter added 13 hits (eight solo), a forced fumble and 2.0 tackles for loss.
Spencer Havird had 10 hits 9seven solo) and Josh Ramseur had a career-best nine stops from his nose guard position. Foster was active again at corner, collecting five hits (four solo), picking off a pass to stop a Coastal drive in the end zone and returning his fumble 51 yards to set up Gardner-Webb's lone score of the day.
Coastal Carolina had 119 of its 349 yards offensively in the final, and decisive, 15 minutes of action. Henderson carried 22 times for 101 yards and a touchdown and reserves Kenneth Daniels (75 yards) and Ra'Quan Bennett (24 yards) were effective when called on – as the Chanticleers' ran for 249 yards in the game.
Keane went 15-of-18 for 100 yards, one touchdown and an interception. He hit Mapp six times for 53 yards and a score.
Alex Scearce (nine stops), Shane Johnson (nine stops) and Richie Sampson (eight stops, seven solo) were very active chasing the football on the perimeter for Coastal Carolina. Jabari Bothwell finished with six hits and 2.5 sacks from his tackle spot.
Gardner-Webb will get back to Big South Conference action next week, hosting a strong Kennesaw State squad at high noon in Spangler Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on the American Sports Network (ASN), with legendary play-by-play man Mike Hogewood and former NFL and Notre Dame standout Renaldo Wynn calling the action.