BOILING SPRINGS – Gardner-Webb took to the turf in Ernest W. Spangler Stadium Tuesday morning, completing the first full-speed scrimmage of the fall with good energy and pace.
The Runnin' Bulldogs finished the 110-snap scrimmage in less than two hours, with plenty of special teams work as an intermission. The GWU veterans and starters played just over 40 snaps on Tuesday, with reserves getting plenty of time to continue their push up the depth chart.
After stretch and pre-practice, the Runnin' Bulldogs went right into individual work with position coaches – typical of a normal pregame routine – and started scrimmage action soon after.
A combination of second and third-team made up the first rotation on both sides and the offense was able to move the chains twice before stalling.
Reserve halfback Jayln Cagle (Kannapolis, N.C. / A.L. Brown HS) continued an impressive preseason on the first drive, dashing around end for a solid 15-yard gain and bulling for another first down.
The first-team defense made a stop on its first rotation, halting the offense on third-and-short – and scoring a touchdown when that snap sailed high and deep before scooting away on the turf. Safety Spencer Havird (San Diego, Calif. / Valhalla HS) scooped the miscue and dashed 30 yards into the end zone as whistles blew the play dead.
The remainder of the scrimmage was evenly matched overall, with the offense picking up first downs and the defense making several key stops to prevent the chains from moving.
Quarterback Tyrell Maxwell (Cordova, S.C. / Edisto HS) led a pair of scoring drives on the day, using his dangerous mobility several times – but also showcasing better accuracy through the air. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound junior has been noticeably more accurate passing the football through the first eight days of camp than a year ago.
Just before the midway point of Tuesday's scrimmage, Maxwell converted a fourth-down chance with his legs, then got GWU inside the 15-yard line before handing the ball twice to redshirt sophomore Khalil Lewis (Hilton Head Island, S.C. / Hilton Head HS). Lewis, a 5-foot-10, 215-pound back, carried tacklers for a six-yard gain – then bulled in for a score from the one.
Lewis' work in with the GWU strength and conditioning staff during the offseason has been on display all preseason.
Maxwell led the offense on another scoring drive after the break, showcasing all of his skills. He scrambled out of trouble near midfield and – if not for quick whistles to protect the quarterbacks – was on his way to paydirt from 40 yards away.
He followed with a nice throw to Willie Jackson IV (Mobile, Ala. / Faith Academy) for a 12-yard gain to the 11 and hit slot receiver Trey Brice (Gastonia, N.C. / Ashbrook HS) in a tight window down to the two.
Maxwell then leapt high on an errant snap to make a save, gathered himself quickly and waltzed into the end zone on a designed run.
Gardner-Webb switched gears soon after that drive, going into Red Zone period. Backup quarterback Chase Arrington (Sanford, N.C. / Lee County) got the 'Dogs on the board again, hitting Eastern Michigan transfer Braylin Collins (Duncan, S.C. / Byrnes HS) on a five-yard scoring play.
Nose guard Josh Ramseur (Kingstown, N.C. / Burns HS) got a nice push up front on the following drive and sliced through for a tackle behind the line to thwart and third-down chance for the first-team offense.
Incumbent kicker Paul Schumacher (West Palm Beach, Fla. / The King's Academy) stepped in and nailed a 35-yard field goal – with plenty of room to spare – to cap the morning's activities. Schumacher also made a 30-yarder earlier in the day – connecting on three-straight chances from that distance after a drive stalled.
* Brice, Collins and Jackson each worked reps with the first-team offense at receiver, with Brice in the slot. Returning starter Kyle Horton (Charlotte, N.C. / Mallard Creek HS) has moved from the slot receiver spot to an outside position to take full advantage of his field-stretching speed (4.33 40-yard dash time).
* Linebacker Jeffrey Pegues (Charlotte, N.C. / Mallard Creek) had a tipped pass inside the 20-yard line on third-down just before the midway point Tuesday. Pegues and classmate Kenyatta Dunbar (Edgefield, S.C. / Strom Thurmond HS) each return to the starting lineup in 2016 after playing in reserve roles last season. Each started as true freshman in 2014.
* Reserve quarterback Ramsey Rigby (Elba, Ala. / Elba HS) connected on a 18-yard first down with Akron transfer tight end Caleb Chapman (Ft. Myers, Fla. / Evangelical Christian School) on the first drive of the day.
* Linebacker Corey Horne (Guyton, Ga. / South Effingham HS) continued to shine with the second team, picking off a pass after dropping into coverage.
* Backup cornerbacks Josh Carter (Bristow, Va. / Fork Union Military) and Ali Edwards (Sugar Hill, Ga. / North Gwinnett HS) each had a highlight play Tuesday. Carter picked off an early pass and returned it close to 15 yards – and Edwards knocked away a pass deep in his own territory to thwart a scoring opportunity on third down.
* The aforementioned Cagle (5-11, 195, Fr.) has a nice mix of size and speed that has been on display often in camp. He is capable of out-running defenders on the edge while also finding space and pushing for yardage between the tackles. He also worked fielding punts on Tuesday morning and could impact special teams.
* Running back Elijah Perry (Apex, N.C. / Middle Creek HS) also showed good acceleration Tuesday, darting around end for a first down early in the scrimmage.
* Gardner-Webb will hit the field again Wednesday morning for the first of two practices on the day. The 'Dogs will hold their second scrimmage of the preseason on Saturday morning – with officials on hand for that action.