Monday, September 3, 2018

Gardner-Webb Duo Named to Week 1 Big South Honors

Shai Thomas was named as the Big South Defensive Player of the Week after a monster performance in Week 1. Thomas scored two defensive touchdowns against Limestone in addition to six total tackles (three solo, three assisted), 1.5 tackles-for-loss (minus-7 yards) as well as a quarterback hurry. His two scores came on back-to-back possessions and within 1:50 of each other. Thomas first scored on a fumble recovery in the end zone, and on the ensuing drive four plays later, snatched a tipped pass out of the air and outran the Saints for a 41-yard score. It was just the second time in Big South history a player recorded a fumble return TD and interception return touchdown in the same game.

Joining Thomas with Big South honors was Special Teams Player of the Week Kyle Horton, a former Mallard Creek standout. Horton returned three punts for 78 yards (26.0 average) to give Gardner-Webb field possession inside Limestone territory twice and near midfield on another. Each return was at least 20 yards (30, 28, 20), while two led to eventual touchdown drives.

Gardner-Webb posted 50 points for the first time since Nov. 2, 2013 vs. Warner (51-14). The 52 points vs. Limestone marked the highest point total in a season opener since a 58-14 win over Mars Hill in 2009.

Gardner-Webb meets North Carolina A&T for the second time on Saturday. The Aggies won the first-ever match-up last season, a 45-3 victory in Boiling Springs. Gardner-Webb is looking for its first win over an FCS opponent since defeating Monmouth in the 2016 season finale. The Runnin’ Bulldogs last defeated a non-conference FCS foe that same season (season opener vs. Elon, 31-6).