BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – The Presbyterian College football team dropped its conference opener at Gardner-Webb, 24-3, on Saturday night at Spangler Stadium in Boiling Springs, N.C. The Blue Hose drop to 1-4 overall and 0-1 in Big South play, while Gardner-Webb improves to 3-3 overall, 1-0 in the Big South.

Head Coach Harold Nichols’s Take

“I thought in the first half penalties took us out of some opportunities early. We had some drives going but weren’t able to get any points out of them. We kicked a field goal there right before half and I thought that would be a big play in the game. It put us down 10-3 and I thought it would give us a chance going in to the third quarter. We did some good things in the third quarter but we just kept shooting ourselves in the foot and had some plays that we left out there. Defensively, I thought we hemmed them up at times but again struggled with the big plays. We are frustrated and disappointed and we have to get it figured out. I think we are better than that but Gardner-Webb is a good team and a lot credit goes to them.”

Turning Point

The second half turned the tide in Gardner-Webb’s favor, as the Runnin’ Bulldogs outscored PC, 14-0, in the half and outgained the Blue Hose, 250-79, to claim the victory. Touchdowns from Tyrell Maxwell and Khalil Lewis came late in the third and fourth quarters, respectively, to put the game away for GWU.

How It Happened

Gardner-Webb scored on its opening play of the game, as Tyrell Maxwell found Kyle Horton for 74 yards for the touchdown to give the Runnin’ Bulldogs the early 7-0 lead. GWU then added to its lead with three points on its following drive, going 72 on six plays with a 30-yard field goal by Paul Schumacher to make it a 10-0 lead just 10 minutes in to the game. Presbyterian would get on the board late in the first half, putting together a 15-play, 73-yard drive that elapsed 4:49 with Brett Norton making his third field goal of the year, a 24-yarder, to cut the lead to 10-3 at the half.

Maxwell extended the Gardner-Webb lead late in the third quarter with an 87-yard touchdown run, pushing the margin to 17-3. Khalil Lewis tacked on a late score in the fourth quarter with a one-yard touchdown to cap off an 11-play, 87-yard that elapsed 5:56 and push the score to the final margin of 24-3.

Stat of the Game

The Blue Hose defense continued its success on third downs this season, holding the Runnin’ Bulldogs to 3-of-10 on third downs in the game. On the year, opponents have managed just 12 third down conversions on 53 attempts against PC, a conversion percentage of 22.6 percent. PC entered the game second in the FCS in third  down defense.

Offensive Leader

Ben Cheek was back at quarterback, making his third start of the season. He threw for a career-high 124 passing yards on a career-high 17 completions.

Defensive Standout

Grant Beidel paced the PC defense on the night with a career-high and game-high 11 tackles, including seven solo tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. It was his first game this season with double-digit tackles and now has 3.0 tackles for loss on the season, after having 0.5 tackle for loss in PC’s last game against Florida Tech.

Offensive Highlights

- Darrell Bridges led PC on the ground, rushing 19 times for 67 yards with a long of 20 yards.

- Daryl Wilson tied his career-high with five receptions for a season-high 45 receiving yards to lead PC on the night. He hauled in his longest reception of the season, a 31-yarder in the third quarter, which is the third longest offensive play by the Blue Hose this season.

- Darquez Watson continued his strong play at wideout, catching three balls for 39 receiving yards on the night. He has at least three receptions in each of his last three games played, the only PC receiver to do just that.

- Brett Norton made his only field goal attempt of the night, a 24-yarder, for his third make of the season. He is now 3-of-4 on the year and 9-of-14 for his career, including a flawless 9-of-9 on the road.

Defensive Notes

- Brett Norton continued his strong play as a punter, booting it eight times for 338 yards, an average of 42.2 yards per punt. Norton also had three punts downed inside the 20 and two of at least 50 yards. On the year, Norton has had 16 punts downed inside the 20 and 11 punts of at least 50 yards.

- Kevin Green and Nick Moss each added eight tackles in the game. Moss added a 0.5 tackle for loss, the first of his career for the PC freshman.

- Robert Baker forced a fumble in tonight’s game, the first forced fumble by PC this season. Steve Osondu recovered it for the second fumble recovery by PC this year.

Up Next

PC returns to action on a short week, hosting Monmouth in the first ever Thursday night game at Bailey Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m. The game can be seen on the Big South Network.