Blue Hose Wrap up Season with Close Loss to Gardner Webb
Senior Michael Ruff and Redshirt Freshman Tobi Antigha both recorded touchdowns in the fourth quarter to lead the Blue Hose back from a 21-2 deficit only to fall at the end, 21-15, to the Gardner Webb football team this afternoon at Spangler Stadium in Boiling Springs, N.C.
PC ends the season at 2-9 overall and 0-6 in the Big South. Gardner Webb ends its season at 3-8, 2-4.
Kaleb Griffin led the Blue Hose with a 22-of-32 effort and threw for a career-high 252 yards and two touchdowns, a career-high as well. Ruff went over 100-receiving yards for the first time this season with 109 yards. He finished the game with a season-high 185 all-purpose yards, just nine away from his career-high, and one touchdown. Lance Byrd led the rushing attack with 11 carries for 43 yards.
The Blue Hose finished with 282 yards of total offense, including 252 in the air, eclipsed only by the 270 yards at Furman as the most this season.
Gardner Webb finished with 442 yards of offense, and had 239 yards in the air. The Runnin' Bulldogs controlled the clock 25:12 - 24:248 and had nine more first downs, 25-16.
Gardner Webb struck first with a touchdown at the 5:30 mark of the first quarter. The Runnin' Bulldogs took five plays and went 80 yards, capped by a 42-yard touchdown catch by Kenny Cook as GWU took the early 7-0 lead.
On PC's following possession, Ruff retuned the kick-off 58 yards to give the Blue Hose the ball at the GWU 38-yard line. PC drove to the nine-yard line for a first and goal, but penalties pushed the team back to the 14-yard line. Aaron Mayes came in for the field goal attempt but the snap was muffed, resulting in Gardner Webb ball at its own 46-yard line.
The Bulldogs capitalized on the good field position, using up 7:34 on the clock, going 54 yards off 16 plays for their second score of the game. Highlighting the 16 plays was a 23-yard catch by Seth Cranfill to open the drive.
L.J. Perry blocked the ensuing PAT by Trever Austin, with Ed Britt picking up the ball and running the ball all the way back for the safety, to cut the deficit to 11, 13-2, with 12:53 left in the first half.
Gardner Webb took over at the 4:44 mark from its own 27-yard line, drove to the PC 40-yard line and seemed to have the momentum before Beatty's pass at third and five was intercepted by Cory White, the first of his career. The Blue Hose took over and drove to the GWU 24-yard line, highlighted by a 23-yard catch by Ruff, with 28 seconds left before half. The offense stalled, forcing a 41-yard field goal attempt by Mayes. His attempt went wide right to give the Runnin' Bulldogs the ball. They ran the clock out and went into the locker room leading 13-2.
After a quiet third quarter, Gardner Webb's Little broke through from the GW 31-yard line for a 65-yard rush to give the Runnin' Bulldogs the 19-3 lead. Beatty threw to White for the two-point conversion as Gardner Webb took the 21-3 lead.
PC began its rally the next possession with a six-play, 75 yard drive, that saw Griffin convert five of six passes, the final a 23-yard catch to Antigha, resulting in his first career touchdown reception. The two-point conversion failed as PC cut the margin to 13, 21-8.
After a stalled Gardner Webb drive the next possession, PC took over at its own 30-yard line. After Griffin was sacked on a first and 10, he threw an 11-yard pass to Byrd, then connected on a 49-yard completion to Ruff who took it in for the score to cut the margin to six after the successful PAT by Mayes.
The Blue Hose took over with 2:38 remaining with a chance to go ahead, but two plays into the drive, Griffin was sacked and fumbled the ball, giving the Runnin' Bulldogs the ball with 2:07 left. GWU converted first down and was able to run the clock out and preserve the 21-15 win.