CHARLOTTE – Gardner-Webb quarterback Tyrell Maxwell and defensive end Davis Neilands each earned Big South Conference Football weekly awards on Monday afternoon following a 17-10 win at No. 8 Charleston Southern.
Maxwell (Cordova, S.C. / Edisto HS) was named Big South Conference Offensive Player of the Week for the third time this season. Neilands (Park Ridge, Ill. / Maine South HS) was named Big South Conference/Come Ready Nutrition Freshman of the Week.
Maxwell was the catalyst for another big win, accounting for 360 of Gardner-Webb's 430 total offensive yards (83.7 percent) at Charleston Southern.
Playing without leading rusher Khalil Lewis, who was injured at Liberty the week prior, Maxwell rumbled for 165 yards and a touchdown on the ground and completed 21-of-29 passes for 195 yards and the game-winning score.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound dynamo darted 52 yards for a game-tying touchdown midway through the third quarter – then took the team on his back with less than two minutes to play to win the game.
Backed up to his own 15-yard line, Maxwell led Gardner-Webb on an eight-play, 85-yard drive. He ran for 47 yards on that drive – converting three first downs – and completed 5-of-5 passes for 38 yards. Maxwell's 15-yard scramble with 45 seconds left pushed GWU into field goal range and his 26-yard dash with 30 seconds left set the Runnin' Bulldogs up at the one-yard line.
He hit tight end Mike Estes – on the next play – for what would be the game-winning touchdown with 26.5 seconds left on the clock.
Maxwell was effective on third down, converting himself seven times – including five times on the ground. He was also at his best in the second half, running for 107 yards and completing 15-of-19 passes for 119 yards over the final 30 minutes.
A milestone was also reached on Saturday, as Maxwell passed former VMI quarterback Tim Maypray (1,785) for the Big South Conference quarterback career rushing mark. Maxwell now has 1,914 career rushing yards and 14 touchdowns to his credit – despite only starting for the past two seasons under center. The dual-threat signal caller has also passed for 2,565 yards and 16 scores, leaving him only 86 yards shy of becoming the first quarterback in Big South history to rush and pass for 2,000 yards in a career.
The game was Maxwell's league-record seventh of 100 yards or more on the ground for a quarterback. It was also has fourth career game with more than 150 yards rushing, which is also the most for a quarterback in league annals. Maxwell has posted four of the top-10 rushing performances by a quarterback in Big South history – also the highest mark since the league started football in 2002.
Maxwell's 865 yards rushing leads all FCS quarterbacks in 2016 and leaves him just 135 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark with one game left. He has two runs of 50+ yards this season, and five total plays of 50 yards or more. He has now passed for 100+ yards and rushed for 100+ yards six times in his career, also a league record.
Neilands continued to elevate his play on the defensive side of the ball, finishing with a game and career-high 11 total tackles in Saturday's win.
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound redshirt freshman had five solo stops, a half sack and a quarterback pressure to lead a Gardner-Webb defensive that allowed only a field goal over the final 55 minutes of the game.
Neilands had a pair of tackles on third down, including a solo stop for no gain on 3rd-and-1 in the red zone that forced a field goal attempt early in the fourth quarter. He helped a pass rush that produced a 1-for-7 passing effort by Charleston Southern in the second half and held the Bucs to a 1-for-6 effort on third down in that same time span.
With Neilands in the starting lineup for the past two games, Gardner-Webb's defense has recorded nine sacks – just one shy of its total production over the season's first eight games. Neilands has 2.5 over the past two games himself – and has totaled 37 total tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks and four pressures in the first 10 games of his career with the Runnin' Bulldogs.
Both Maxwell and Neilands were also honored by STATS FCS on Monday. Maxwell was named honorable mention National FCS Offensive Player of the Week for the third time this season and for the fourth time in his career. Neilands earned honorable mention National FCS Freshman of the Week honors.
Gardner-Webb will get some needed rest this weekend, enjoying an open date on November 12. The Runnin' Bulldogs return to action for the season finale on November 19 – a home date with Monmouth (1:30 pm).