news-category: Athletics

Gardner-Webb Runs Through Eastern Kentucky Saturday to Advance in FCS Playoffs

two football players at the Kentucky game

Runnin’ Bulldogs Take on No. 5 William and Mary on Dec. 3 at 2 p.m.

Gardner-Webb ran for 405 yards and used a 21-0 burst in the third quarter to push through Eastern Kentucky in the first round of the 2022 FCS Playoffs.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs (7-5) made the most of their first appearance in the event with a 52-41 win to advance to play at No. 5 William & Mary Saturday (Dec. 3). Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. (ESPN+).

“I told our guys in the locker room this is a special group,” said Tre Lamb. “Those type of teams don’t come along very often. I could coach another 30 years and not have a group this special. Those guys bought in. We gave them something to buy into. I’ve never been around a group that loves each other as much as those kids do. It’s pretty remarkable.”

Narii Gaither rumbled for nearly 150 yards in the first quarter and finished with a career-high 245 yards and two scores on 28 carries Saturday. Bailey Fisher added 88 yards and three rushing touchdowns on seven carries and completed 14-of-20 passes for 118 yards and another touchdown.

Jayden Brown added 77 yards and a touchdown for the Runnin’ Bulldogs, who rambled for 32 first downs and punted just three times in the game. GWU finished with 523 yards of total offense.

Gaither was the star early and often, carrying the rock often on a 65-yard drive to open the scoring. His 28-yard sprint with 11:43 to play put the Runnin’ Bulldogs up quickly.

Eastern Kentucky (7-5) responded with a 27-yard pass from Parker McKinney to Jaden Smith after a long kickoff return to tie the game, but Fisher responded by directing Gardner-Webb on a 12-play, 67-yard drive after both teams exchanged punts. The Big South Conference Player of the Year dove in from 10 yards out for a 14-7 edge with 1:04 to play in the first.

In addition to the big day rushing, Gardner-Webb got five catches for 62 yards from Luther and three catches for 33 yards from tight end Jonathan Burns. GWU rushed for 156 yards in the first quarter and gained 160 yards on the ground in the decisive third quarter.

Eastern Kentucky finished with 498 yards of total offense, with nearly 200 coming in the fourth quarter. The Colonels ran for just 44 yards on 22 carries.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to six professional schools, 14 academic departments, 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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