CSU wins Big South finale in dramatic fashion

Sports

(Source: CSU Athletics)

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. — Charleston Southern needed extra time Saturday afternoon but it used it to its advantage, knocking off Gardner-Webb 32-24 in double overtime in the Big South season finale from Spangler Stadium in Boiling Springs, North Carolina.

FIRST SINCE 2016
The Buccaneers played their first double-overtime contest since a thrilling 59-58 victory at Coastal Carolina Oct. 1, 2016. It was the first time CSU played past regulation since its 27-20 triumph against Hampton Nov. 9, 2019, in the only other overtime tilt of the Autry Denson era.

AND THE OSCAR GOES TO…
Danuel Oscar was the running back with the most action and he sparked the offense with a career-high 101 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown. He put the first Bucs points on the board with an 18-yard rush at 11:15 of the second quarter and continued to take the workload through the entire contest.

He played a pivotal role in the second overtime, rushing three times for 23 yards on the possession. His 11-yard scamper set up the game-winning score on the next play by Jack Chambers as it advanced the ball to the 2-yard line and gave CSU its second first down in the second set of extra time.

LATE PUNT BLOCK LEADS TO BUCS UP AT THE HALF
Charleston Southern registered its first blocked kick of the season when Elijah Harper got a hand on a Jack Pawloski punt with less than a minute to go in the second quarter. Harper pressured the punter and his blockers, sticking his arms into the kick’s path and then pouncing on the loose ball to give his offense a short field.

Needing just seven yards to go, Chambers connected with Geoffrey Wall in the back corner of the end zone just 23 seconds later to send the Buccaneers into the intermission ahead, 21-14. It capped a 21-point period for CSU, who overcame an early deficit to rally for the lead after 30 minutes.

BABBUSH CONVERTS IN OT
Freshman Sam Babbush used his leg to keep the Bucs’ chances alive. After the Running’ Bulldogs jumped ahead on an Austin McKay field goal on the opening possession, Charleston Southern managed just seven yards on its first-three plays. CSU then turned to Babbush for the tying score and he drilled the 35-yard field goal, sending the matchup into a second extra period.

DEFENSE STONEWALLS GARDNER-WEBB CHANCE
The Bulldogs started their first full drive near midfield, at their own 49-yard line, with 11:01 left in regulation. On the second play, quarterback Bailey Fisher found wide receiver Justin Jordan for a 50-yard completion, moving the ball to the CSU 1-yard line.

However, they would get no further. Nick Salley and Justin McIntire knocked Narii Gaither back for a loss of two yards on the next play and then back-to-back stops by Ja’Courtney Snipes and Boogsie Silvera left GWU a fourth down from the 1-yard line. Gaither tried again to enter the end zone but Shaundre Mims had other ideas and wrapped him up at the line scrimmage to prevent the touchdown, which would have tied it at 21-21.

WILLIAMS; SALLEY CLIMB LIST
Defensive standouts Anton Williams and Nick Salley padded their career sacks resumes by collecting 1.0 apiece. Williams raises his number to 14.5, remaining in fourth place, while Salley now has 11.0, tying him with Gary Hamby (1995-98) and Jake Killeen (2007-08) for seventh among the Bucs’ all-time greats.

KENNEDY PICKS OFF ANOTHER
Safety Hombre Kennedy stepped in front of a Fisher pass and grabbed his team-leading third interception of the season, returning it for 18 yards, in the fourth quarter. Seven other CSU players have picks, this fall, with Matthew Williams the only other member with multiple after he grabbed his second during Saturday’s first quarter.

Kennedy’s three interceptions are the most by a Bucs player since James Allen tied two others for the single-season standard of six in 2018 and they rank as the most by any individual in the Denson era.

SMITH STOPS RUNNIN’ BULLDOGS 11 TIMES
Leading the way with 11 tackles was defensive back Kamron Smith. He was one of just two players in the game in double figures. Nine of his stops were solo and he was also credited with one pass breakup.

BIG SOUTH IN THE BOOKS
With Saturday’s game now on record, the 2021 Big South slate has come to a close for Charleston Southern. It marks the earliest – by date – the Bucs have played their final league contest of the season, just ahead of the Nov. 14 tilt against Liberty in 2015.

RECORDS
Charleston Southern: 4-5, 3-4 Big South
Gardner-Webb: 3-7, 1-5 Big South

UP NEXT
The Buccaneers will conclude their campaign Saturday at Noon in Athens, Georgia, against FBS No. 1 Georgia. The second meeting in the series will be shown on SEC Network+ and ESPN+.

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