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.
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.