Press release provided by Gardner-Webb Athletics
CHARLESTON, S.C. – Gardner-Webb drove inside Charleston Southern’s 10-yard line twice in the fourth quarter but couldn’t come away with points and the Buccaneers closed the 2021 spring season with a 20-7 win over the Runnin’ Bulldogs.
Gardner-Webb (2-2, 0-2 Big South) dropped its second in a row, managing just 207 yards of total offense in a difficult offensive day. GWU turned the ball over three times, once at the Charleston Southern two-yard line in the first quarter and once at the CSU six-yard line in the second quarter.
The Runnin’ Bulldog defense gave up an early scoring drive, but Charleston Southern (2-2, 1-1 Big South) pushed the extra point wide right for a 6-0 lead, and the GWU defenders buckled down for much of the game.
Another score put the Buccaneers up 13-0, before Gardner-Webb’s defense seized momentum itself.
Ga’Marcus Freeman scooped a fumble and rumbled 22 yards for a touchdown with 4:36 to play before halftime – cutting Charleston Southern’s lead to 13-7.
Another turnover nearly led to a go-ahead score.
A.J. Thomas stepped in front of a Jack Chambers pass deep in Gardner-Webb territory and raced 46 yards the other way inside the CSU 30-yard line. The ‘Dogs turned it over on the very next play.
Both defensive units held tough in the third quarter and Charleston Southern finally pushed across an insurance score with a 41-yard touchdown pass from Chambers to Cayden Jordan for what would be the final margin.
Gardner-Webb had its chances, winning the special teams and field position battle in the fourth quarter, but just couldn’t produce enough offense.
Narii Gaither finished with 51 yards on 16 carries to lead Gardner-Webb’s ground game, which produced nicely early in the third quarter before stalling out in CSU territory.
The ‘Dogs used all three scholarship quarterbacks, with Carlton Aiken going 11-of-19 for 109 yards and a pair of interceptions.
Thomas and Will McCrainey led the defense with nine stops each.
Charleston Southern ground its way to 389 yards offensively, keeping the GWU defense on the field for nearly 80 plays. Chambers was 23-of-35 for 242 yards and three touchdowns, but was sacked three times and picked off once.
Chambers added 71 yards on the ground, with several big gainers on scrambles.
Cody Cline collected 12 tackles for the Buccaneers defense, which held Gardner-Webb to 5-of-15 on third down – and 0-of-2 on fourth down.
Both teams’ spring seasons are complete. Gardner-Webb opens the 2021 campaign on September 4 at Georgia Southern.