By Marc Rabb
Special to College Sports Journal
Editor’s Note: This story is courtesy of Gardner-Webb athletics.
BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. — No. 20 Charleston Southern raced to a 21-0 halftime lead and clamped down defensively to beat Gardner-Webb, 34-0, Saturday afternoon at Ernest W. Spangler Stadium.
It marked the first time GWU (2-5, 1-2 Big South) had been shut out in Spangler Stadium since October 26, 2013 against Liberty.
The first-place Bucaneers (6-1, 3-0 Big South) will host top-ranked Coastal Carolina (7-0, 2-0 Big South) next Saturday afternoon.
Both teams held their ground in the game’s early going, before Charleston Southern got a quick scoring drive on the strength of Austin Brown’s arm.
The senior quarterback hit Kenny Dinkins down the right side for a 32-yard touchdown that capped a 4-play, 61-yard march.
The Buccaneers put together a lengthy, sustained drive for their second score, taking advantage of a roughing the passer foul to keep the drive alive – and a pass interference call on third down in the GWU end zone to set up first and goal from the two.
Ben Robinson punched in one play later to cap the 10-play, 72-yard scoring drive and CSU led 14-0.
Gardner-Webb finally got into Charleston Southern territory on its next drive, getting a 24-yard scramble from Tyrell Maxwell to get to the CSU 48, but the drive stalled from there.
The Bucs answered with a six-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with a 38-yard scoring toss from Brown to Mike Holloway for a 21-0 lead with 3:40 to play before the half.
Charleston Southern added to its lead two drives into the second quarter, getting a wheel route open down the left side — which allowed Brown to connect with Robinson on a 24-yard scoring play. The extra point missed, but CSU was in control with a 27-0 lead.
Another deep drive by CSU ended in a missed 26-yard field goal with 25 seconds left on the third quarter clock, but Solomon Brown picked off a Maxwell pass on first down and returned it 28 yards for a defensive touchdown and the final margin.
Gardner-Webb was limited to a season-low 110 yards of total offense on 52 plays.
Charleston Southern finished with 391 yards on 68 plays, gaining 189 on the ground and 202 through the air. Brown was efficient, completing 14-of-24 attempts for those 202 yards and three scores.
He had just 12 yards on the ground, but Robinson (58 yards, TD), Holloway (36 yards), Alan Barnwell (31 yards) and Hammond (29 yards) paced a ground game that saw eight different ball carriers in the game.
Gardner-Webb was led defensively by Tanner Burch (13 tackles), Azziz Higgins (11 tackles) and Chad Geter (10 tackles) and saw Higgins break up two passes from his linebacker spot.
Aaron Brown had 11 hits to pace the Buccaneers’ effort defensively, with nose guard Caleb Batchelor finishing with six hits, 2.0 tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry. Brown also had seven hits to go with his interception return for a score.
Gardner-Webb begins a two-game league road trip next Saturday, traveling to Presbyterian for a Halloween battle at 2 p.m. in Clinton, S.C. (Big South Network).