news-category: Athletics

Gardner-Webb Football Looks to Defend its Big South Conference Title

Gardner-Webb Big South Football Championship 2022 Team

Catch All the Home Action by Purchasing Season Tickets

BOILING SPRINGS—Coming off an impressive seven-win season, Gardner-Webb football is eager to defend its 2022 Big South Conference title. The team opens its 2023 season on Saturday, Sept. 2, at Appalachian State in Boone. Their first home game is during Family Weekend on Saturday, Sept. 9, when the Runnin’ Bulldogs take on Elon at 6 p.m. in Spangler Stadium.  

Fans can catch all the home action by purchasing season tickets here. New this season are more than 400 premium stadium seats with armrests, backs, and cupholders. Located in Section 9, these spots offer the best views of the 50-yardline and all the action on the field. Individual game tickets will be available soon.  

“As much as we’ve enjoyed celebrating last season’s historic successes, everybody—and I mean everybody—is focused squarely on the task at hand in 2023,” emphasized Gardner-Webb President Dr. William M. Downs. “We have the talent and the tenacity to do something even greater this year, and I encourage our fans to join us in big numbers to help us write yet another new headline in the story of GWU football. The defending champs deserve to have their home stadium packed and loud for each game, so let’s fill Spangler!”  

Coach Tre Lamb

Head coach Tre Lamb has an experienced team heading into the season with key starters returning on offense and defense. “I feel very good about what we’ve got coming back, this is the best team we’ve had; the most experienced team we’ve had,” Lamb observed. “We are playing really good FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) programs in Eastern Kentucky, Austin Peay and Elon—who are probably all three playoff teams potentially. If we win those games, I think we have a great shot to get in.”  

Lamb’s team has also garnered the attention of the media and coaches. For the first time since the 2003 preseason, Gardner-Webb football is ranked in a major FCS poll, earning the #25 spot in the STATS Perform Preseason Poll. The team also ranked #22 in the HERO Sports FCS Preseason Poll. In addition, Gardner-Webb ranked #24 in the American Football Coaches Association poll.  

All-America running back Narii Gaither feels confident about defending the conference title. “Gardner-Webb—over this past off season—has put in a lot of work, and we’re ready to reap the harvest of all that work,” he affirmed. “We’re excited for all the games in our season.”  

Gaither (5-10, 192, R-Sr.) ran for 1,019 yards and seven touchdowns last season and enters his final campaign with 2,462 yards on the ground in 35 games.   All-America defensive end Ty French is also enthusiastic about getting on the field. “We are going to come out and compete, and we are going to play hard every drive,” he promised.  

French (6-3, 230, Sr.) enters his fourth season with the Runnin’ Bulldogs as one of the nation’s best pass rushers. The Moultrie, Ga., native has 160 career tackles, 36.5 tackles for loss and 24.0 career sacks—just one shy of the Big South Conference record and four shy of the Gardner-Webb mark.  

In 2023, the Big South Conference and OVC (Ohio Valley Conference) enter into the first season of joint association of the two leagues’ football member institutions. The 10 combined teams will play a six-game conference schedule.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs remaining home games include:

• Oct. 7 – GWU vs. Robert Morris (White out, 6 p.m. kickoff).

• Oct. 21 – GWU vs. Eastern Kentucky (Black out, rematch of last year’s FCS playoff matchup, 6 p.m. kickoff).

• Oct. 28 – GWU vs. UT Martin (Homecoming, 1:30 p.m. kickoff).

• Nov. 18 – GWU vs. Charleston Southern (Military Appreciation Day, 1 p.m. kickoff).  

On the road, Gardner-Webb travels to Tennessee State in Nashville on Sept. 16, East Carolina in Greenville on Sept. 23 and battles ASUN foe Austin Peay in Clarksville, Tenn., on Oct. 14. The Dawgs round out their road schedule at Bryant in Smithfield, R.I., on Nov. 4 and at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville on Nov. 11.  

Auxiliary aids will be made available to persons with disabilities upon request 10 working days prior to the event.  Please call 704-406-4270 or email [email protected] with your request.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at Gardner-Webb.edu

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