By: Jared McMurry
In a game chalked fill of offense, the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs (2-2) pulled out a thrilling 43-36 victory over the Wofford Terriers (1-2).
Gardner-Webb got things rolling early, as running back Juanne Blount finished off a 10 play 72 yard drive with a two yard score on the Bulldog’s opening drive.
Wofford would return the favor when quarterback Evan Jacks kept the ball and rushed 45 yards to the end zone.
The rushing touchdown by Wofford was the first one given up all season by Gardner-Webb. It was evident early that the Bulldog’s offense was going to have to score points in order to stay in the game.
Wofford would score from 28 yards out on fourth down, which gave them a 28-14 lead with just over a minute remaining in the first half. Following a good kickoff return, the Bulldogs were able to capitalize on good field position and score to pull within one score at the half.
Kenny Cook, the Bulldogs top receiving threat returned from injury, and was really able to give the offense a boost, not only in the first half but the entire game.
“Kenny coming back was really big for our offense, allowing things to really open up,” tight end Seth Cranfill said. Cranfill caught five passes for 38 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.
Coming out of the locker room after the half, all the momentum was on the side of Gardner-Webb, but the defense still knew they needed to come up with some stops. “We really came out of the locker room with some fight,” coach McCray said.
The Bulldogs would stop the Terriers on their first position and go on to take a 36-28 lead into the final quarter. Coach McCray was really satisfied with how his defense fed off of his offense in the second game.
“All three phases of the game fed off of each other,” he said. McCray also noted that the kicking game was exceptional well, which he knew would be key heading into the game.
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Terriers were down, but they were far from out. Quarterback Evan Jacks drove his team right down the field, and tied the game up on an 11-yard run and a successful two-point conversion by halfback Ray Smith.
Gardner-Webb would set up shop with just over five minutes to play, from their own 41-yard line. Quarterback Lucas Beatty was able to stay in rhythm on the Bulldogs final drive, and he connected with Cook for a five yard score on third and goal to go.
The Terriers received the ball back with just over two minutes remaining, but only one timeout. Their drive ended when they turned the ball over on downs with just under 30 seconds left in the game.
Lucas Beatty led the Bulldogs through the air with 233 yards and three touchdowns, Tyrell Maxwell rushed for 61 yards on seven carries, while Blount added 59 yards on 14 carries. Cook caught six passes for 59 yards for Gardner-Webb.
Coach McCray knew all week that the entire game was going to be a chest match, and he was satisfied with how his team responded. “We matched the intensity in the fight throughout the entire game,” he said.
To view all photos from the game, click here.