Bucs Lose 27-20 Heartbreaker to Gardner-WebbOctober 17, 2009
By CSU Sports Information
|Toscano carries the ball in for a touchdown|
BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – Recent history said it would be a close game, with the last two meetings being decided by four points or less, and Saturday’s game between Gardner-Webb and Charleston Southern proved no different as GWU scored with 22 seconds left to take a 27-20 victory at Spangler Stadium.
The Buccaneers (2-4, 0-1) felt good about their chances when they tied the game with less than two minutes to play, but Stan Doolittle led the Runnin’ Bulldogs (4-2, 2-0) on a 78-yard game-winning drive..
“I actually felt like we had the momentum,” said Coach Jay Mills. “We came back after a score with a good kickoff and good coverage and the defense had gotten the last stop. Credit goes to Gardner-Webb, the way they took that ball down the field against our defense.”
CSU fell to 0-4 on the road this year, while GWU won their second home game after not having played in Boiling Springs since the season-opener against Mars Hill. The 27 points are the fewest given up in a loss this season for CSU, and the fewest since a 20-19 loss last year on the road at Stony Brook.
Two similarly structured teams, both rushing attacks did the most damage, with GWU holding a slight advantage with 204 rushing yards to CSU’s 198. The Bulldogs also held an advantage through the air 184-144.
Gerald Stevenson was the leading rusher for CSU with 68 yards on eight carries, an 8.5 yard average. A.J. Toscano completed just 11 of his 33 pass attempts, throwing one touchdown pass and two interceptions. He also rushed for another score.
Andrew McKain led the defensive charge for CSU with 13 tackles, while Chris Kuzdale had 11 tackles, including a tackle for loss. He also had one of two forced fumbles.
Gardner-Webb had little trouble putting the ball in the end zone on their opening drive, using primarily the rushing attack of Hall and Doolittle to put together a 12-play, 64-yard drive. Hall finished the day with 118 yards on the ground, while Doolittle completed 16-25 passes for 184 yards.
Toscano and the CSU offense seemed to have an answer as they methodically put together a 10-play drive to march inside the GWU red zone. As Toscano tried to lob a pass to Clayton Coffman, Marty Patterson reached up and tipped the ball to himself for his first interception of the season.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs would add three more points to their lead early in the second quarter as Ryan Gates connected on a 26-yard field goal after a 16 play drive.
From that point on in the first half it was all Charleston Southern as the defense forced two three-and-outs, leading to 13 unanswered points by the Buccaneer offense. A 33-yard pass-and-catch from Toscano to Stevenson set up a 37-yard field goal by John Paglia, his fifth of the season to make it 10-3.
CSU got the ball back with 4:55 left in the half and chewed up 4:44 on 16 plays as they marched down the field. On third and goal from the three, Toscano kept it over the left side of the line for the game-tying touchdown, leaving only time for one unsuccessful desperation heave by GWU before the close of the half.
On their first drive of the second half, GWU moved the ball into CSU territory but Chris Kuzdale punched the ball loose from Doolittle, giving it back to CSU on their own 30.
Needing 70 yards for a touchdown, the Bucs got 68 of them as a pass from Antwan Ivey fell incomplete on third down. Paglia easily knocked an 18-yard field goal through with 7:04 left in the third to give CSU their first lead of the game, 13-10.
A similar drive for GWU left them 10 yards short of the end zone, forcing a 27-yard Gates field goal that tied the game at 13 with under a minute to play in the third quarter.
Toscano was picked off for the second time in the game, this time by Darren Rogers, setting up a 21-yard touchdown by Hall to make it 20-13, GWU.
A fourth-down stop by the defense midway through the fourth gave the Bucs the ball back with 8:07 to work with. The offense ran the ball down the field, finishing the drive in spectacular fashion with tight end Josh Atkinson pulling in a diving catch from 10 yards out to bring CSU to within one.
The team lined up to go for two and the win, forcing GWU to call a defensive time out. For the second time in the game, CSU chose to take a delay of game call to set up an easier angle for Paglia to kick. GWU declined on the 18-yard field goal, but accepted on the extra point attempt, but the extra distance did not faze Paglia as he put it right down the middle to tie the game 20-20 with 1:56 left in the game.
“We were fortunate and happy that they burned one of their time outs,” said Mills. “If we had gotten the look that we wanted, we were going to go for two right there and try to win.”
CSU will put their seven-game home winning streak on the line as they face preseason Big South favorite Liberty next weekend for Homecoming Weekend.
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