Sunday, September 13, 2015

Elon Defeats Gardner-Webb, 21-13, in Three Overtimes Saturday Night

BOILING SPRINGS – Elon’s Connor Christiansen hit Corey Joyner on the first play of the third overtime Saturday and the Phoenix picked off a fourth-down pass to take a 21-13 win at Gardner-Webb.

A sluggish game in regulation heated up late, with Gardner-Webb’s Tyrell Maxwell hitting Mike Estes with no time left in regulation from one yard out – cutting Elon’s lead to 7-6. Paul Schumacher’s extra point sent the game to overtime.

GWU held the Phoenix (1-1) in the first overtime, forcing a 45-yard field goal from John Gallagher that gave Elon a 10-7 lead. The Runnin’ Bulldogs drove inside the 10-yard line, but Estes was tackled just a yard short on third down at the six and Schumacher tied the score with a 22-yard chip shot.

Elon stopped Gardner-Webb (0-2) short in the second overtime and Schumacher came through with a 41-yarder to give GWU a 13-10 lead. Gallagher answered with a 25-yarder for Elon to send the game to a third overtime.

Christiansen stepped up and hit Joyner on a 25-yard score to tilt the game in Elon’s favor, and followed with a two-point conversion throw to Doug Warrick for a 21-13 lead.

After a two-yard gain on first down by Gardner-Webb’s Khalil Lewis, Maxwell missed Estes in the end zone on second down and left the game after being forced out of bounds on the throw. Chase Arrington came on and was sacked – and then was picked off at the two by Julius Moore to seal the game.

“We fought back at the end but it was a game that came down to missed opportunities and mixed execution,” said Gardner-Webb head coach Carroll McCray. “We had the ball on the right side of the 50 [yard line] quite a bit and we either shot ourselves in the foot or didn’t make plays when we had a chance to make plays. They flipped the field on us a few times. We got the game into overtime and had a chance to win the game – we just didn’t get it done.”

The two teams both struggled to get going in the first half, each punting five times and going a combined 3-for-18 on third down. Elon gained only 92 yards of total offense (32 rushing) and GWU just 113 (97 rushing) in the opening 30 minutes.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs out-gained Elon 305-209 on the night, but were hurt on third down – missing on their first 12 conversion chances and going just 3-of-21 in the game.

Maxwell again paced the ground game, gaining 71 yards on 26 carries – despite being sacked four
times. The Runnin’ Bulldogs got a career-high 70 yards on 19 carries from Lewis and saw Bobby Clark gain 42 yards on 11 carries. GWU posted 193 rushing yards on 63 carries as a team.

Maxwell completed 17-of-30 passes for 112 yards and a score through the air. Estes caught five of those balls for 33 yards and a score and Kyle Horton hauled in three passes for 31 yards.

Tanner Burch had 12 tackles (six solo) to lead the defensive effort – which limited Elon to just 93 yards rushing on 43 carries (2.2 per attempt). Aaron Cook added 10 tackles, a sack and three quarterback pressures from his linebacker spot – and Chad Geter finished with nine tackles (seven solo), 1.5 tackles for loss, two quarterback pressures and a fumble recovery. OJ Mau finished with six hits and 2.5 tackles for loss.

Ivan Toomer recovered a fumble, forced a fumble and broke up three passes to go with four tackles and a tackle for loss.

Elon was led by Christiansen, who rushed for a team-high 52 yards on 14 carries and overcame two sacks to completed 15-of-30 passes for 116 yards and a pair of scores. Joyner caught both of the scores, catching four balls for 47 yards to pace the receiving corps.

Christiansen hit Joyner from eight yards out with 6:59 left in the third quarter to break a 0-0 tie – a lead that held until Maxwell’s last-second toss to Estes.

Elon sacked two GWU quarterbacks a total of five times in the game, with Rob Sullivan collecting 2.0 sacks for the second game in a row. Corey Mitchell finished with 18 total tackles and John Silas had 17. Moore – who ended the game with his pick – added 10 hits (seven solo) and two pass break ups.

Phoenix punter David Petroni had another standout game – booming 10 attempts for a 49.4 average with four inside the 20-yard line. His long kick was 63 yards, and another sailed 61 yards.

Gardner-Webb will host Virginia Union next Saturday at 6:00 pm in Ernest W. Spangler Stadium. The Panthers (2-0) whipped St. Augustine’s, 42-7, Saturday night for their second win of the season.

The game will air live on The Big South Network ( and