Boiling Springs, N.C. - Aaron Reese ran for a team high 111 yards in his starting quarterback debut for the Tornados in the 2011 season and Derek Church found the end zone twice on the evening, but Gardner-Webb scored 17 consecutive points spanning the second and fourth quarters as the Tornados fell to the Runnin’ Bulldogs on Saturday evening in Spangler Stadium, 34-17.
Reese broke the century mark for Brevard (0-1), carrying the ball 15 times for 111 yards, including a game-long 45 yards scamper on the second play of the game, setting up Brevard’s first touchdown. He also went 2-for-6 in the air for 18 yards, hooking up with Eric Watts and Andre Overholt. Derek Church added 97 yards on 22 carries as the Tornados picked up 245 yards rushing on the ground, averaging 5.7 yards per carry on the ground.
Defensively, Michael Gist and C.J. Wilson had 13 tackles apiece to led the Brevard defense as the Tornados picked up nine tackles for loss against the FCS Runnin’ Bulldogs. Christian Lumbu and Richard Ray also disrupted the GWU passing attack throughout the evening as each of the starting defensive ends recorded two sacks in the game.
Kenny Little and Juanne Blount led the Gardner-Webb (1-0) balanced offensive attack as each of the running backs picked up over 100 yards rushing the game. Little led the way with 23 carries for 131 yards, including three touchdown runs, while Blount averaged 7.3 yards per carry onhis way to a 102 yard rushing effort. Through the air, Chandler Browning was 14-for-26 for 217 yards and a touchdown, with his favorite target being James Perry III, who hauled in six passes for 107 yards and a score.
Devin Johnson led all players on the field with 15 total tackles on the evening, while Lyndrez Leslie and Bradley Taylor each recorded sacks on the BC quarterback.
Brevard opened the scoring in the contest on their opening drive as Reese marched the Tornados down the field. After a Jeter carry put the ball on the BC 40 yard line, Reese took the snap and ran the option around the edge, keeping the ball himself as he carried the ball all the way down to the GWU 15 yard line. Four plays later, on fourth-and-1, Church bulled his way into the end zone at the 11:32 mark, and following Austin Clark’s extra point, the Tornados led 7-0.
The defenses controlled the remainder of the first quarter as both teams were forced to punt after consecutive three-and-outs, before Gardner-Webb started their third drive of the game in BC territory following a 22 yard punt return by Ricky Rhodes, giving the Runnin’ Bulldogs the ball on the BC 38. After a pair of first downs, Richard Ray burst through the line of scrimmage, sacking Browning inside the red zone and the Tornados defense stiffened up, giving way to a Trever Austin 30 yard field goal with 1:55 left in the first half, putting the score at 7-3.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs took their first lead of the contest on their next drive as GWU used six plays to move 37 yards, finishing on Little’s 15 yard carry into the end zone early in the second half, putting GWU up 10-7.
The Tornados responded on their next drive, using a 19 yard carry by Church and a 15 yard face mask penalty to most the ball into Gardner-Webb territory. A 15 yard pickup by Kelvin Jeter put Brevard inside the red zone at the GWU 15 yard line, but that was as close as the Tornados were able to come. Clark drilled in the field goal attempt from 33 yards out with 8:05 left in the first half to tie the score up at 10 apiece.
Gardner-Webb would score twice more in the first half as Perry would haul in a 34 yard touchdown reception from Browning, capping off a five play-70 yard drive with 6:03 left in the half and Austin drilled a 33 yard field goal in the closing seconds to give the Runnin’ Bulldogs the 20-10 halftime lead.
After a scoreless third quarter, Little punched the ball in from one yard out to cap the longest drive of the evening as GWU moved the ball 80 yards in 14 plays and 3:37 to go up 27-10.
The Tornados continued to battle back, as Church added his second touchdown of the evening, this time bulldozing his way in from 10 yards out to put the score at 27-17 with 10:56 left in the contest, but the Runnin’ Bulldogs put the game away on Little’s three yard carry, ending the suspense in the 2011 season opener for both squads.
Brevard returns home next weekend as they open their 2011 home schedule on Saturday, September 10th against Johnson C. Smith University. Kickoff inside Brevard Memorial Stadium is set for 2 p.m.