Saturday, October 25, 2014

Gardner-Webb Drops Big South Opener, 34-0, At Liberty Saturday Afternoon

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Liberty dominated the line of scrimmage Saturday afternoon and cruised to a 34-0 win over Gardner-Webb in the Big South opener for both teams.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs (4-4, 0-1 Big South) finished with only 73 yards (minus-17 yards rushing) and six first downs in the game, as Liberty (5-3, 1-0 Big South) racked up five sacks and four more knockdowns in a dominant performance.

It marked the lowest yardage output since Gardner-Webb moved to NCAA Division I in 2000 and was the second time in as many seasons the Runnin’ Bulldogs went scoreless against Liberty.

Liberty’s offensive output was steady, with D.J. Abnar leading a very effective rushing attack with 137 yards and a pair of scores on 27 carries. The Flames gained yards offensively, going for 294 yards on the ground and 207 through the air.

Josh Woodrum scrambled four yards for a touchdown with 9:00 left in the first to cap Liberty’s first scoring drive and John Lunsford finished a short drive with a 35-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead with 5:54 left in that frame.

Abnar scored from 19 yards away with 11:12 left before halftime, and Lunsford connected on a 39-yarded at the halftime horn for a 20-0 lead at the break.

Gardner-Webb had minus-11 yards of total offense at halftime, with a 16-yard pass play from Lucas Beatty to Kenny Cook in the first quarter the lone offensive first down in those 30 minutes.

It was the lone connection of the game for the Beatty-Cook combo – with too much pressure coming from Liberty’s front four to get the aerial attack on track.

Liberty went up 27-0 early in the third quarter, with Abnar’s second rushing score coming with 12:48 on the clock. A Gardner-Webb fumble turned into quick points later in the quarter, with Woodrum finding Jaquan Glover open for a six-yard score and a 34-0 lead with 10:52 left in the stanza – the final score of the game.

Woodrum finished 15-of-23 for 204 yards, one touchdown and an interception for Liberty. Dante Shells caught two passes for 106 yards to lead the receiving corps.

Beatty finished 12-of-23 for 73 yards, hitting Seth Cranfill four times for 19 yards. Cook (16 yards), Estes (13 yards) and Willie Jackson IV (10 yards) each had first down catches for GWU.

Liberty’s defense had no players with more than four tackles. Chima Uzowihe led the pass rush with 2.5 sacks.

Gardner-Webb’s Ivan Toomer had nine tackles (six solo) and Aaron Cook had eight hits to pace the defensive stat sheet.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs return home on Saturday, November 1, hosting No. 3/4 Coastal Carolina at 3:30 pm in Ernest W. Spangler Stadium. The Chanticleers (8-0) handled Charleston Southern, 43-22, at home Saturday to continue its win streak.

Next Saturday’s game will air on American Sports Network (ASN), with clearances to be announced mid-week by the Big South Conference office.