Saturday, October 18, 2014

Gardner-Webb Tops VMI, 47-41, in Double Overtime Saturday

LEXINGTON, Va. – Kenny Cook’s diving catch in the end zone in the second overtime lifted Gardner-Webb to a 47-41 win over VMI Saturday afternoon.

Cook’s catch, a 25-yard strike from Lucas Beatty, was his second score of the game. The Cross Hill, S.C., native finished with 12 catches for a school-record 251 yards in the most dominant performance of his career to date.

Cook also had an 80-yard touchdown catch that gave Gardner-Webb a 28-13 lead just after halftime. His 23-yard catch in the first overtime set up another GWU score.

“I ran the same route as the [23-yard gain] in the first overtime,” said Cook. “We saw something there and Lucas put the ball up for me and I just went up and made a play on it. It was a good feeling to get that road win.”

Beatty also had a career day, completing 25-of-42 passes for a career-high 430 yards and five touchdowns, part of a 550-yard offensive day for the Runnin’ Bulldogs (4-3).

Gardner-Webb held a comfortable 31-13 lead as the fourth quarter started, but the Keydets (1-7) would not go away.

Freshman quarterback Al Cobb tossed three of his school-record six touchdowns passes during a 21-point rally in the fourth quarter, giving his Keydets a 34-31 lead with just 4:03 remaining.

Gardner-Webb was faced with a long field with a chance to tie, but Beatty was up to the challenge despite starting at his own 14-yard line.

The Charlotte, N.C., senior complete three consecutive passes to get GWU into VMI territory at the 48 and nearly had the game winner – but saw a second down pass go just off an open receiver’s finger tips on the sideline.

A sack pushed GWU back near midfield and – faced with 4th-and-20 – Beatty came through with a clutch throw. He zipped a pass for 23 yards to tight end Mike Estes and found Seth Cranfill on third down for five yards to set up the game-tying field goal.

Paul Schumacher came through, drilling a 43-yarder through the uprights with seven seconds left to tie the game at 34.

Beatty and Cook hooked up quickly to start overtime, with the 6-foot-4, 218-pound Cook diving for a 23-yard catch down to the two. J.J. Hubbard punched in two plays later and Schumacher’s PAT put the ‘Dogs up 41-34.

Cobb wasted little time catching his team up again, hitting Aaron Sanders at the five-yard line – and Sanders stepped out of a tackle to score and send the game to a second overtime.

Gardner-Webb’s Aaron Cook came up with a big sack on VMI’s second overtime drive, pushing the Keydets back to the 19-yard line. Tyler Hough-Jenkins batted down a second down pass and a dropped pass on third down forced a 36-yard field goal attempt that missed low and wide left.

Cook worked open downfield on first down, and Beatty’s pass was on the money for the game winner.

Early on, the visitors had complete control of the game.

Gardner-Webb took an early 14-0 lead, with Beatty hitting Jordan Jones from one-yard out to cap a 63-yard drive and finding Estes on a 23-yard wheel route with 5:52 left in the first quarter – capping a 49-yard drive.

VMI countered with a 66-yard drive in seven plays midway through the second quarter, with Al Cobb hitting Matthew Nicholson on a slant for a 19-yard touchdown. The extra point was wide, leaving the score at 14-6 with 5:46 to play before halftime.

After a kickoff and penalty, Gardner-Webb found itself backed up at its own eight, but Beatty started to click again – driving the ‘Dogs 92 yards on 11 plays and chewing 3:48 off the clock. He hit Deonte’ Swinton for a 29-yard touchdown pass for a 21-6 lead with 1:58 left in the half.

A defensive stop put Gardner-Webb back in business, but VMI’s defense forced a quick punt with less than a minute left.

After an 11-yard kick, the Keydets had first down at the GWU 31, and scored three plays later to cut the lead to 21-13. Cobb found Doug Burton from 22-yards out with just 11 seconds to play before the half.

Beatty and Cook hooked up to swing momentum early in the third quarter, with Cook stepping out of a tackle after a catch and racing 80 yards to the house for a 28-13 lead with 14:07 on the clock.

Backup Tyrell Maxwell came on for the next drive and led the Runnin’ Bulldogs down inside the 10, before VMI held and forced a 26-yard field goal from Schumacher with 5:43 to go in the third. The kick was true, and GWU had its 31-13.

The Keydets were stopped on fourth down inside Gardner-Webb territory late in the third, but got the ball back into GWU territory as the fourth quarter started.

Cobb got his club into the end zone with 12:09 left in the game, hitting fullback Kyle Vardo on a three-yarder. The extra point cut the lead to 31-20, and momentum was back with the home team.

Gardner-Webb drove out near midfield, but VMI forced a punt and marched downfield again – converting a key fourth down with 8:24 remaining and getting back into GWU territory two plays later.

Cobb tossed his fourth touchdown pass to Dane Forelines from 12 yards out, but his two-point pass was short with 5:56 left, leaving the score 31-26.

Beatty made his lone mistake of the game on first play of the ensuing drive. His pass was picked by Greg Sanders at the 45, and returned all the way to the 15-yard line – setting the Keydets up with golden field position.

Cobb struck again, hitting Deon Watts on a swing pass for a score with 4:03 left. His two-point conversion was good, and VMI’s comeback resulted in a 34-31 lead.

Gardner-Webb had some gas left in the tank, and enough time on the clock for Beatty to engineer a comeback.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs ran 83 plays on Saturday for its 550 yards, averaging a healthy 6.6 yards per play and 16.7 yards per completion. GWU finished with 27 first downs and 99 yards rushing, despite playing without leading rusher Juanne Blount and two starting offensive linemen.

Hubbard finished with 76 yards rushing on 13 carries and a score to pace the running game. In addition to Cook’s big day through the air, Estes finished with five catches for 79 yards and a score, Swinton had three catches for 64 yards and a score and Cranfill had three catches for 34 yards.

Beatty hit seven different receivers for his career day and Maxwell came off the bench to complete both of his passes for 21 yards.

Jeffrey Pegues had a busy day at linebacker, finishing with a career-high 20 total tackles (eight solo). Azziz Higgins added nine stops and Aaron Cook made eight hits, collected a sack and had a quarterback pressure.

Hough-Jenkins had five stops, 1.5 tackles for loss and batted down two passes from his end position.

Gardner-Webb’s defense held VMI to just 51 yards in the third quarter as it built its 31-13 lead.

VMI came alive in the fourth quarter to finish with 413 yards of total offense.

Cobb completed 34-of-53 passes for 351 yards and his six touchdowns (no interceptions), hitting the majority of his throws underneath Gardner-Webb’s coverage.

Sam Patterson led the way with seven catches for 75 yards, and six different Keydets caught Cobb’s touchdown passes.

Gardner-Webb begins Big South Conference play next weekend, traveling back to Virginia to face Liberty at 3:30 pm in Lynchburg. The game will air live on ESPN3 and

Story courtesy of Gardner-Webb Sports Information