CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern kicks off a pivotal November stretch on Saturday against Gardner-Webb. Kickoff at Buccaneer Field is scheduled for 12 noon as CSU looks for its fifth straight win and tries to stay perfect in Big South Conference play. The game will be televised in 12 different states on the American Sports Network (ASN) and is available locally on MeTV Charleston. Fans can also listen to coverage on csusports.com, with the pregame show beginning at 11:55 a.m.
A CSU (5-2, 2-0 Big South) victory could set up a de facto Big South title game next Saturday at Liberty. The Flames are 3-0 in conference play and visit Presbyterian on Saturday. Standing between the Bucs and that matchup is an improved Gardner-Webb (3-6, 1-2 Big South) team hungry for a win. The Runnin' Bulldogs enter on a three-game losing streak but challenged a ranked Coastal Carolina club and fell to Kennesaw State and Liberty in one possession games.
CSU ran its home winning streak to ten games last week with a 49-28 triumph over Bucknell but head coach Jamey Chadwell and staff expect better from the Bucs. Fifteen penalties and three turnovers helped the Bison hang around and CSU knows it will need to clean up those mistakes and play crisper football to achieve the goals in front of them.
"We've shown some flashes where we're playing up to our potential but we need to be more consistent," Chadwell said. "We can't afford to play the way we did at times last week on Saturday and expect to win."
"Gardner-Webb has been right there in just about every game so we know they're going to challenge us," Chadwell continued. "They're stout defensively like always and have really improved on the offensive side of the ball. Their quarterback is dynamic so we have to keep him in check. They're going to come in here looking to play spoiler so we need to be sharp and have the right mindset to come out and perform."
Gardner-Webb took Liberty to overtime in Lynchburg on Saturday behind a stingy defensive effort that limited the Flames to 2.2 yards per rush and just 291 total yards. Linebacker Chad Geter added to his Big South-leading tackle total with a game-high 11 stops, while defensive lineman Jeffrey Pegues notched 2.5 of the Runnin' Bulldogs five sacks. GWU also intercepted two passes to move its turnover margin for the year to +5.
GWU quarterback Tyrell Maxwell, a second-year starter, was held in check by Liberty but remains the Big South's leader in total offense. Maxwell's 700 rushing yards are second most in the league, behind only his teammates, running back Khalil Lewis. Maxwell has also improved as a passer, completing 51 percent of his throws while showing the ability to push the ball downfield off play action.
CSU will be aiming to continue its offensive production behind an increasingly balanced attack. Shane Bucenell and London Johnson combined to throw for a season-high 254 yards against Bucknell as the Bucs rolled up 548 yards of offense. Mike Holloway remains the nation's leader in yards per carry and Kameron Brown continues to emerge as one of the more dynamic freshman playmakers anywhere. CSU's success has been particularly impressive considering shuffling on the offensive line.
Defensively, the Bucs will seek to bottle up Gardner-Webb as they have in the series' recent history. GWU has not surpassed the 250-yard mark in total offense in its last five matchup versus CSU. The Bucs pitched a shutout in Boiling Springs last October, holding the Runnin' Bulldogs to 20 yards in the second half and 110 overall. CSU scored 27 first quarter points to roll to a 44-14 win over GWU on Senior Day in 2014.
FRESHMEN GETTING IT DONE
Shane Bucenell threw for 172 yards and three touchdowns against Bucknell. London Johnson came off the bench and played most of the second half, completing 4-of-5 attempts for 82 yards and a score while adding 80 yards rushing and two touchdowns. CSU's 254 yards passing was a season high. Freshman Kameron Brown was the Bucs' leading target, hauling in five passes for 67 yards and two touchdowns. Brown has been a big play threat for CSU throughout the year, averaging almost 19 yards per catch while ranking fourth in the Big South in receiving yards per game.
BLUE SWARM LIVING UP TO ITS NAME
CSU had a season-high 12 tackles-for-loss against Bucknell. Solomon Brown, Seth Harrelson and Gerald Turner each recorded sacks. Brown led the Bucs with 3.5 TFL, his second game this year with three or more. CSU leads the Big South and ranks 16th nationally with 2.86 sacks per game. Brown (7th, 2nd) and Anthony Ellis (4th, 6th) are both among the league's top ten in sacks and TFL.
TOP TEN AGAIN
CSU is ranked in the top ten of both major national polls for the sixth straight week and eighth time overall this year. The Bucs have been ranked in the top 25 for 18 straight weeks dating back to last season. CSU was ranked in the preseason and installed as the Big South Conference favorite for the first time ever this summer. No other Big South team has entered the rankings this year.
11 STRAIGHT & COUNTING...
CSU has won 11 straight Big South Conference games, with its last loss coming Oct. 25, 2014 at No. 3 Coastal Carolina. The Bucs went undefeated in Big South play last year, joining Stony Brook (2011) as the only teams in league history to post a 6-0 conference mark.
TRENDING WELL AT HOME
CSU is 18-2 at home under Chadwell and has won ten straight games at Buccaneer Field dating to November of 2014. The Bucs were a perfect 6-0 in 2015, capped off by a playoff win over The Citadel in front of nearly 8,500 fans, a Buccaneer Field record.