Gardner-Webb hosts former Big South Conference colleague and 16th-ranked Coastal Carolina on Saturday for a 1:30 pm kickoff in Ernest W Spangler Stadium. The game will air live on The Big South Network (bigsouthsports.com) with Fabian Fuentes and Alex Guest describing the moving pictures. Brendan Boylan and Tyler Helms will bring the game to life via audio on wgwg.org as well.
Gardner-Webb and Coastal Carolina will meet for the 14th time in the series, but for the first time as non-conference opponents ... Coastal Carolina is in the first year of transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and the Sun Belt Conference ... CCU is classified as an FCS Independent program in 2016, but is not eligible for the FCS Playoffs ... The Chanticleers have been dominant in the series, winning 11 of the 13 previous meetings since starting a program in 2003 ... Gardner-Webb is 0-6 against Coastal Carolina in Spangler Stadium, beginning with a Homecoming defeat on October 30, 2004 (31-19) ... Both of Gardner-Webb's wins in the series have come on the road in Conway, S.C. ... The last three meetings, all with Coastal Carolina ranked in the FCS top-10, have seen the margin of victory average 35.0 ppg in favor of the Chanticleers ... Eventual Big South champion Coastal Carolina nipped Gardner-Webb, 30-27, in overtime on October 30, 2010 – one of five wins by less than a touchdown in the series by CCU.
THE HEAD COACHES
Gardner-Webb head coach Carroll McCray (Class of '83) returned to his alma mater in 2013 and has forged an 18-22 record so far in his time in Boiling Springs. Coastal Carolina head coach Joe Moglia (Fordham '71) has been very successful during his five seasons as a college head coach, directing the Chanticleers to a 44-15 mark.
Gardner-Webb will play four of its five games at home during the month of October, its longest home stretch since moving to NCAA Division I in 2000. The Runnin' Bulldogs played three consecutive home games in 2005, 2009 and 2011. That quartet includes wins over Benedict (10/1) and Presbyterian (10/8) already. Gardner-Webb will now host #16 Coastal Carolina (10/15) and Kennesaw State (10/22) to close out the stand.
ZONED FOR SUCCESS
Through six games in 2016, Gardner-Webb has gone 18-of-20 in the red zone – scoring touchdowns on 14 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. By contrast, Gardner-Webb has limited its opponents to a 15-for-21 effort in the red zone (71 percent), with just 13 of those resulting in touchdowns (62 percent). GWU went 6-of-6 in the zone vs. Benedict (10/1).
TOUGH EARLY STRETCH
Gardner-Webb had 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 Western Carolina (9/10) and Mid-American Conference contender Ohio (9/24). The lone home game during that first month came against 15th-ranked The Citadel (9/17), which moved into the top-10 in both national polls on September 19. Gardner-Webb's 31-6 win over Elon (9/3) was impressive, with the Phoenix beating No. 8 William & Mary on the road on September 24.
TURF THE REST OF THE WAY
Gardner-Webb will play each of its final five games in 2016 – and 10 in a row – on artificial surfaces. 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). Spangler Stadium switched to artificial turf prior to the 2014 season.
THE GETER METER
Outside linebacker Chad Geter (6-2, 253, R-Sr.) has garnered high praise already in 2016, building on his truckload of preseason accolades with solid performance in his final college season. The graduate student leads the Big South Conference with 58 total tackles (30 solo) and has contributed 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack and a pass break up. Geter – an All-Big South Conference choice in 2013 and 2015 – has 285 career tackles, 31.0 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks to his credit in Boiling Springs. Geter was named to the 2017 Reese's Senior Bowl Watch List in August and is a 2016 preseason FCS All-America choice. He had 10 hits in the win over Presbyterian (10/8), earning Big South Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors for the first time in 2016 and for the third time in the past two seasons.
KHALIL'S GOT THE WILL
Gardner-Webb back Khalil Lewis (5-10, 215, R-So.) has made the most of his opportunities so far in 2016. In six starts this season the speedster has carried 114 times for 628 yards and 10 rushing scores. He ranks No. 3 nationally in rushing touchdowns, No. 6 nationally in rushing yards and No. 19 in yards per game. Lewis has scored a rushing touchdown in six consecutive games, the longest streak since Gardner-Webb's move to the Big South and the fifth-best in Big South history. Lewis is on track to shatter the GWU single-season rushing touchdowns mark (13), set by Shed Harris in 1996. He is the first GWU back to reach double figures in rushing TD since Patrick Hall had 12 in 2009. The former Hilton Head (S.C.) High star was recruited at the FBS level as a prep senior (Buffalo, Florida Atlantic) after rushing for 3,082 yards and 32 touchdowns in his final two high school seasons. He added more than 15 pounds of muscle and lowered his 40-yard dash time to an impressive 4.42 seconds this past offseason.
Quarterback Tyrell Maxwell (6-2, 220, Jr.) continued to show signs of progress in the Big South opener vs. Presbyterian (10/8), directing a potent offensive attack that produced 519 yards and a 24-3 win. The Cordova, S.C., native posted a career-best 377 total yards himself, including 222 through the air. Maxwell ran 11 times for a season-high 155 yards and an 87-yard touchdown that made its mark in the league and school record books. It is the longest run ever for a quarterback in Big South history and is the third-longest run in Gardner-Webb history – regardless of position. Maxwell also had a 74-yard bomb on GWU's opening offensive play for a score to Kyle Horton, making him the first quarterback in Big South or Gardner-Webb history to run for a score of 80+ yards and pass for a score of 70+ yards in the same game. He is only the second quarterback in Big South history to pass for 200+ yards and run for 150+ yards in the same game. Maxwell's performance earned him Big South Offensive Player of the Week honors for the second time this season – in addition to honorable mention FCS National Offensive Player of the Week honors from STATS for the second time in 2016.
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 17 receptions for 230 yards over the first six games and now has 98 catches for 1,269 yards and nine scores for his career. With his touchdown catch vs. Benedict (10/1), Estes became the Big South's tight triple crown leader for his career in catches, yardage and touchdowns. He had a career-best catch of 64 yards to set up a field goal vs. Presbyterian (10/8).
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 (9/10) and ranks second on the team with 37 total hits so far in 2016.
THIS WEEK AROUND THE BIG SOUTH CONFERENCE
Thursday, October 13
Monmouth at Presbyterian *, 7:00 pm (BSN)
Saturday, October 14
#16 Coastal Carolina at Gardner-Webb, 1:30 pm (BSN)
Liberty at Kennesaw State, 7:00 pm (ESPN3)
#8 Charleston Southern is idle
Cornerback Jaylan Foster (6-0, 190, Fr.) has made quite an impact over the past three games. He contributed seven solo stops and 2.0 tackles for loss in the 24-3 win over Presbyterian (10/8), earning Big South Conference Freshman of the Week and STATS honorable mention national FCS Freshman of the Week honors. Since moving into the thick of the rotation at Ohio and starting the past two games, Foster has made 22 total tackles, picked off two passes and broken up five passes. He has added 2.5 tackles for loss and a half sack, along with a 60-yard fumble recovery for a score. He had a career-high 10 total hits (seven solo), broke up three passes and picked off a pass at Ohio (9/24).
Gardner-Webb returned 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.). That quartet, along with right guard Brayden Briggs (6-3, 300, R-Fr.) has helped Gardner-Webb top the 200-yard mark rushing in five of six games so far. GWU ranks No. 12 nationally in rushing yards per game (257.3) and has scored 16 times on the ground in six games. Both Khalil Lewis and Tyrell Maxwell rank among the league's leaders in rushing yardage.
Defensive end P.J. Fuimaono (6-1, 282, Jr.) has been active getting after opposing quarterbacks over the past three games, registering 3.0 sacks during that span. The Pago Pago, American Samoa, native had a pair of sacks at FBS Ohio (9/24) and collected his third in the Big South opener vs. Presbyterian (10/8). Fuimaono played his freshman season at junior college powerhouse Mt. San Antonio (Calif.) College before transferring to GWU. He was a star middle linebacker at Samoana High on the island of American Samoa.
Gardner-Webb hosts Kennesaw State over fall break, as the Owls fly into Boiling Springs on October 22 for a Noon kickoff. The game will air live on the American Sports Network (ASN), with legendary play-by-play man Mike Hogewood and former NFL standout Renaldo Wynn on the call.†
GAME NOTES: Gardner-Webb (3-3) Welcomes #16 Coastal Carolina (3-2) To Spangler Stadium In Non-Conference Tilt