CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern welcomes Gardner-Webb to Buccaneer Field for Senior Day and Military Appreciation Day as CSU hosts the Runnin' Bulldogs in their home finale. Kickoff on ESPN+ is set for 3 p.m. In this week's three things to watch, we take a look at the 2018 CSU Football's success on Senior Day, GWU redshirt freshman quarterback Jordan Smith, and how this battle between the teams has come down to the wire each of the last two seasons.
Military Appreciation: In honor or Veterans day and to celebrate those who have served our country we invite all active and veteran members of our military to attend our game. Simply present your military ID at the gate for FREE admission. Also during our game, together the Big South Conference and Hardee's will donate $5 per point scored to support the Patriot Foundation.
All game day information is available on the Game Day Central page.
SENIOR CLASS SUCCESS
Charleston Southern's 2018 senior class looks to put a cap on their careers playing in front of the home fans this weekend against Gardner-Webb. CSU has picked up wins on Senior Day in each of the last four seasons and could make it a perfect 5-0 on the final home game of the season at Buccaneer Field.
CSU Senior Class On Senior Day
Nov. 18, 2017 vs. Liberty - W, 20-19
Nov. 19, 2016 vs. Kennesaw State - W, 28-7
Nov. 14, 2015 vs. Liberty - W, 31-24
Nov. 8, 2014 vs. Gardner-Webb - W, 44-14
The Buccaneers 2018 senior class boasts an impressive 34-21 record dating back to the 2014 season. Included in the record is a 17-7 mark in Big South Conference play and winning records in Big South competition in each of the last four seasons.
CSU's senior class helped institute a winning mindset for the Buccaneers dating back to the 8-4 record in 2014. Their 34 victories include an impressive 6-0 Big South record in 2015 that clinched CSU's first outright conference championship and a berth into the FCS playoffs.
The Bucs followed up with a 4-1 record in Big South play the ensuing season on their way to their second consecutive conference title and FCS berth. The lone slip-up, a 17-10 home loss to Gardner-Webb, in the next-to-last home game of the season. CSU rebounded with wins against Liberty and Kennesaw State to claim the conference crown and go dancing again that season.
CSU's senior day success continued last season with a thrilling 20-19 win over the visiting Liberty Flames. Tyler Tekac connected on the game-winning 42-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining on the clock to complete the CSU comeback against Liberty. The Bucs trailed 16-7 heading into the fourth quarter. London Johnson scored on an eight-yard touchdown run to cut into the lead and Tekac connected on 24 and 48-yard field goals over the final 15 minutes for the win.
The Bucs will look to continue their senior day successes and potentially have a few seniors advance in the all-time record books as well this weekend. Seniors Tyler Tekac, Solomon Brown, Shadarius Hopkins, Kenny Dinkins, Taz Lindsey, and James Allen are all among the Bucs' all-time leaders.
Tyler Tekac, Placekicker
Field Goals Made – 27, 3rd All-Time
Extra Points Made – 118, 2nd All-Time
Points Scored – 199, 2nd All-Time
Solomon Brown, BUC
Sacks – 15.5, 2nd All-Time
Tackles For Loss – 42.5, 2nd All-Time
Tackles – 251.0, 8th All-Time
Shadarius Hopkins, Safety
Pass Breakups – 26, 3rd All-Time
Kenny Dinkins, Wide Receiver
Receiving Yards – 1,012, 10th All-Time
Touchdowns – 11, 7th All-Time
Taz Lindsey, Return Specialist
Punt Return Yard Average – 11.2 ypa, 2nd All-Time
James Allen, Cornerback
Interception Return Touchdowns – 2, 1st All-Time
Interception Return Yards – 116 yards, 4th All-Time
STOPPING JORDAN SMITH
Charleston Southern faces a tough task defensively this weekend as the Buccaneers face another of the Big South's top quarterbacks this season in Gardner-Webb's Jordan Smith. The redshirt freshman signal caller has earned back-to-back conference Freshman of the Week honors following GWU wins over Campbell and Presbyterian.
Smith has been at his best in Big South play and currently leads the conference in a number of categories. Smith is the conference's best in pass efficiency (145.2), passing yards per completion (15.7), and passing touchdowns (7). He is also second in the Big South in total offense per game (190.3) and passing (156.7).
The Fruit Cove, Fla. native has excelled over the last few weeks. Below are his numbers in Big South play.
Jordan Smith vs. Big South
vs. Kennesaw State – 5-of-15, 52 yards, 1 interception
at Campbell – 11-of-20, 167 yards, 4 touchdowns
vs. Presbyterian – 14-of-26, 251 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception
Smith has also been effective in the ground game in Big South play with at least nine carries in each of the three contests. He has racked up 101 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown this past weekend against Presbyterian.
The Bucs will look to its vaunted pass defense this weekend against the GWU passing offense as CSU again will look to stifle the opposition. The Bucs slipped to No. 2 in the FCS pass defense rankings this past weekend but will look to regain their top-ranking this weekend against the Runnin' Bulldogs.
CSU has not allowed an opposing quarterback to eclipse the 200-yard mark since September 22 against Elon and has limited five of their last six opponents under 175 passing yards in a game. The only team to break the streak is Kennesaw State on October 27 with the Owls throwing for 192 yards on 11-of-18 passing.
The Buccaneers' pass defense has recorded six interceptions over the last six games, including two in the contest against KSU. James Allen (2) and Jonathan Slaton (2) have highlighted CSU's interceptions on the season, while EJ Pride and Brandon Rowland have also picked off passes.
Allen and Slaton will be the pair to watch this weekend as the duo will lineup against GWU receivers Kyle Horton and Jonathan Blackmon. The Runnin' Bulldogs duo has combined for 58 catches, 746 yards, and five touchdowns on the season. Horton, in particular, is fourth in the Big South in yards (527) and touchdowns (4) on the year.
Allen and Slaton comprise arguably the best cover corner duo in the Big South Conference this season. Allen leads the conference with two pick-sixes and is second in the league with 10 passes defended on the year. Slaton is seventh in the conference in the category with eight and added an interception return for a score in CSU's win over Presbyterian.
The pair helped limit Monmouth's Reggie White Jr. to a season-low four catches for 43 yards last weekend in West Long Branch, and have had success against the conference's leading receivers on the season. With it being Senior Day at Buccaneer Field, the onus will be on the senior-laden defensive backfield to provide enough coverage to allow the pass rush to get to the quarterback and force a number of ill-timed throws.
Charleston Southern and Gardner-Webb have battled it out over the last two seasons with each team coming away with a win in their opponents' home territory. In each of the last two games, the game has come down to the final play.
Gardner-Webb mounted an 85-yard touchdown drive to take the lead with 27 seconds left and held off Charleston Southern's last-gasp final drive for a 17-10 win at Buccaneer Field on November 5. The Runnin' Bulldogs moved in front on former GWU quarterback Tyrell Maxwell's one-yard touchdown pass to Mike Estes in the final minute of the game.
The Bucs gave themselves one final chance to tie the game and force overtime on the ensuing possession. Former CSU quarterback Robert Mitchell connected with Larry Jones III for a 55-yard completion to set the Bucs up with the ball at the GWU 16 yard line. However, a dropped pass in the end zone gave was to a Runnin' Bulldog interception on the final play as the Bucs took their only loss in Big South play in 2016.
2017 was a nearly identical contest with play once again going down to the wire. Gardner-Webb took the 9-7 lead with 18 seconds left in the ball game on PJ Schumacher's third field goal of the contest. The Runnin' Bulldogs capped off a 13-play, 41-yard drive with the placekicker's clutch 37-yard field goal that split the uprights and put GWU back in the lead in the closing seconds of the contest.
Robert Mitchell again led CSU's comeback attempt with the signal caller connecting on a 49-yard pass to Kenny Dinkins down the right sideline with one second remaining. Following an official timeout to confirm the catch, long snapper Ethan Ray snapped the ball as the official blew the whistle to start the game clock. David Kennedy's hold was solid and Tekac's kick sailed through the uprights to secure the Buccaneers' Big South road conference win.
Gardner-Webb leads the all-time series over the Buccaneers, 10-7, but CSU has made strides over recent seasons. The Bucs have won four of the last six games over GWU and the teams have a split 4-4 record at Buccaneer Field.