Gardner-Webb heads back on the road for its date with FBS foe Ohio on Saturday, September 24. The game is set for a 2:00 pm kickoff in historic Peden Stadium (24,000 capacity). Saturday's moving pictures will be aired on ESPN3, with Dave Weekley and John Gregory calling the action.
Ohio owns a 2-0 edge in the all-time series vs. Gardner-Webb, winning meetings in 2007 and 2011 ... The Bobcats took a 36-14 win on September 1, 2007 in Gardner-Webb's first game vs. an FBS foe ... Ohio won 30-3 on September 10, 2011 ... Both previous meetings were played at night ... Ohio has never trailed in either of the two previous meetings ... Gardner-Webb has not scored in the first half of either meeting.
Gardner-Webb junior running back Kenny Little had 95 yards rushing on 29 carries en route to a 1,000-yard season in the last meeting, a 30-3 win by the Bobcats (9/10/11) … Ohio used a 24-point burst in the second quarter put the game out of reach … An interception return for a touchdown and two Tyler Tettleton touchdown passes accounted for the first half scoring … Gardner-Webb limited the Bobcats to a pair of field goals in a low scoring second half (6-3).
THE HEAD COACHES
Gardner-Webb head coach Carroll McCray (Class of '83) returned to his alma mater in 2013 and has forged a 16-22 record so far in his time in Boiling Springs. Veteran head coach Frank Solich is in his 12th season as Ohio's head coach, and is a solid 81-63 during his time in Athens. Solich previous served a very succesful stint as head coach at Nebraska from 1998-2003. He went 58-19 during that time with six bowl games in six seasons.
AGAINST THE MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE (MAC)
Gardner-Webb is 1-3 all-time against the Mid-American Conference (MAC) ... Two of the losses have come at Ohio and a third at Buffalo (2009) ... Gardner-Webb picked up its lone win in overtime, topping Akron by a 38-37 score on September 11, 2010 ... GWU blocked an extra point in overtime, then scored and kicked a PAT to win.
Gardner-Webb will head back on the road for the third time in four weeks when it faces Ohio on Saturday afternoon. The Runnin' Bulldogs are just 5-15 on the road since 2013 and have won more than once away from home in only one of those seasons – going 2-4 on the road in 2013 with wins at No. 8 Wofford and Presbyterian. Gardner-Webb last posted a winning road mark in 2006, going 3-2 with wins at Jacksonville (Fla.), Southeastern Louisiana and Liberty. The 'Dogs went 4-1 on the road in 2002, with the lone loss coming at No. 12 Georgia Southern.
TOUGH EARLY STRETCH
Gardner-Webb has one of its toughest stretches ever to begin the 2016 season, playing three of its first four on the road. That trio of road dates included a game at SoCon contender Western Carolina (9/10) and this week at Mid-American Conference contender Ohio (9/24). The lone road game during that first month came against 15th-ranked The Citadel (9/17), which moved to No. 10 in both national polls on September 19.
TURF THE REST OF THE WAY
Gardner-Webb will play each of its final eight games in 2016 on artificial surfaces, three on the road and five at home in Ernest W. Spangler Stadium. The 10 games on artificial turf mark a single-season high for the Runnin' Bulldogs. GWU played its opener on natural grass at Elon (9/3).
THE GETER METER
Gardner-Webb linebacker Chad Geter (6-2, 253, R-Sr.) returns for his final season in the Scarlet & Black and sits atop the Big South Conference stat sheet for linebackers with 32 total tackles (18 solo) through three games. The Irmo, S.C., standout was named preseason third-team All-America by STATS FCS and was a first-team All-Big South Conference selection in July. Geter was a close runner up to the league's preseason Defensive Player of the Year award and was recently one of only 34 FCS seniors named to the 2017 Reese's Senior Bowl Watch List. Geter, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds during offseason testing, led Gardner-Webb and ranked among the best in the Big South with 92 total tackles last season. He also led the squad with 13.5 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks.
ZONED FOR SUCCESS
Through two games in 2016, Gardner-Webb has gone 9-of-10 in the red zone – scoring touchdowns on seven of those trips. Gardner-Webb opened the season by going 5-for-5 on drives that ventured inside the plus-20, scoring four rushing touchdowns to whip Elon in the second half of a 31-6 win. The 'Dogs capped two drives with rushing touchdowns at Western Carolina and scored twice – one field goal and one touchdown – in three trips vs. No. 15 The Citadel.
AGAINST THE FOOTBALL BOWL SUBDIVISION (FBS)
Since playing its first official FBS opponent in 2007 (at Ohio), Gardner-Webb football has gone 1-11 when playing up a subdivision. The lone win came on September 11, 2010 at Akron (38-37, OT). Gardner-Webb had a close call on October 11, 2008 at Georgia Tech – when a blocked field goal at the end of regulation preseved a 10-7 win for the Yellow Jackets.
Gardner-Webb returns four starters on its offensive line for 2016 – right tackle Charlie Eudy (6-2, 280, R-So.), left tackle Will Millikan (6-3, 301, So.), center Caleb Smith (6-3, 330, R-Sr.) and left guard David Sutton (6-3, 303, R-Sr.). Three other current linemen have starting experience as well. The group has helped Gardner-Webb to 272.0 yards per game on the ground through three contests. GWU's rushing exploits have produced a pair of 100-yard performances from running back Khalil Lewis and one from quarterback Tyrell Maxwell.
THE 200 TRAIN
Gardner-Webb has topped 200 yards rushing for three consecutive games, its best streak since 2002. That season, GWU spun off six-straight games with at least 200 yards on the ground en route to a 9-1 record, final top-20 ranking and the 2002 Big South Conference Championship. GWU had a season-high 326 yards in the season-opening win at Elon (9/3), its highest output against a Division I foe since November 3, 2007 vs. Savannah State (366).
Gardner-Webb has been blessed with a wealth of talent at the tight end position of late, with a GWU man earning a spot on the All-Big South Conference team consecutively since 2012 – Seth Cranfill (2012, 2014) and current starter Mike Estes (2013, 2015). Cranfill earned All-America honors from the Associated Press in 2014 and Estes enters his final season on track to duplicate that feat. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Estes has paced GWU with nine receptions over the first two games and now has 90 catches for 1,133 yards and eight scores for his career. His yardage total is tops in the league for a tight end career and his catches and touchdowns are tied for the top spot in Big South annals.
DON'T OVERLOOK THE COOK
With Chad Geter garnering a truckload of preseason accolades, one could easily overlook another All-America caliber linebacker at Gardner-Webb. Aaron Cook (6-1, 235, Sr.) roams the BANDIT position opposite Geter in GWU's 3-4 scheme and has more than earned the right to call himself one of the nation's best. A two-time All-Big South Conference selection (2014, 2015), Cook led the team in tackles as a sophomore and totaled 77 more stops last season for a unit that ranked No. 13 nationally in total defense. The Edgefield, S.C., native was also a preseason All-Big South Conference choice by the league's head coaches in July. He had eight hits and an interception at Western Carolina, with his second tackle giving him 200 for his career with the Runnin' Bulldogs.
THIS WEEK AROUND THE BIG SOUTH CONFERENCE
Saturday, September 24
#11/12 Charleston Southern at Monmouth, 1:00 pm (ESPN3)
Kennesaw State at Duquesne, 1:00 pm (ESPN3)
Gardner-Webb at Ohio, 2:00 pm (ESPN3)
#3/4 Jacksonville State at Liberty, 7:00 pm (BSN)
Florida Tech at Presbyterian, 7:00 pm (BSN)
FAST MOVING OBJECT
Running back Khalil Lewis (5-10, 215, R-So.) positioned himself for a breakout season with hard work during the summer months, and that extra time paid off nicely in season's first three games. Against Elon in the opener, Lewis scored the first three touchdowns of his career and ran for 109 yards on 23 carries – his first 100-yard game. The former Hilton Head (S.C.) High star followed with 19 carries for a career-best 121 yards and a touchdown at Western Carolina (9/10) and followed with 97 yards and a score vs. The Citadel. Lewis leads the Big South Conference in rushing and scoring.
TO THE MAX
Quarterback Tyrell Maxwell (6-2, 220, Jr.) enjoyed another standout performance, becoming the first quarterback in Big South Conference history to post a third game with at least 100 yards passing and 100 yards rushing at Elon (9/3). The Edisto, S.C., native ran for 154 yards and a score on 21 carries and completed 12-of-19 passes for 102 yards. He also broke the GWU rushing record for quarterbacks, passing former starter Nick Roberts on that list. He now has 1,317 yards on the ground for his career – which ranks No. 5 in Big South Conference history for a career. The performance at Elon was his fourth 100-yard game, which is also a record for Gardner-Webb quarterbacks. So far this season Maxwell has rushed for 268 yards and two scores (3rd in Big South) and has passed for 322 yards and one score (2nd in Big South), while completing 51.6 percent of his passes. Maxwell has been even better on third down, completing passes at a 60 percent clip (12-of-20) with nine balls going for first downs in those situations.
Nose guard Josh Ramseur (5-11, 293, R-So.) played the best game of his young career on Saturday against No. 15 The Citadel, racking up eight total tackles and a tackle for loss against the Bulldogs' high-powered run game. Ramseur's efforts helped limit All-America fullback Tyler Renew to just 27 yards on 11 carries, as The Citadel was forced to go to the perimeter. The former Burns (N.C.) High standout is one of the team's strongest men in the weight room and has made 15 total stops this season – his first as a starter with the Runnin' Bulldogs. Ramseur is part of an accomplished football family. His oldest brother, Kenneth, played linebacker at Gardner-Webb in the early 1990s. Another brother, Tim, played linebacker at NC State and Appalachian State in the mid-1990s. Older brother Devonta helped Tuskeegee to the 2015 NCAA Division II quarterfinals and youngest brother, Aaron, is a true freshman linebacker at East Carolina.
Gardner-Webb returns home for a four-game home stretch next weekend, beginning that busy month in Spangler Stadium on October 1 vs. NCAA Division II member Benedict. The game is the first meeting in football between the two programs and will kick off at 6:00 pm. The Big South Network (bigsouthsports.com) will carry the action, with Fabian Fuentes and Alex Guest on the call. †
GAME NOTES: Gardner-Webb Travels To Face Ohio Saturday Afternoon On ESPN3 (2:00 PM)