BOILING SPRINGS, NC - The 15th-ranked Citadel football team improved to 3-0 for the ninth time in program history and second time since 1992 on Saturday evening after clinching a 31-24 win over Gardner-Webb. Head coach Brent Thompson is the second head coach at The Citadel to start his career 3-0 joining Ralph Foster who won his first four games in 1906-07.
Gardner-Webb (1-2) got on the board first after a 7-play, 86-yard drive resulted in a touchdown to make it a 7-0 game. The Citadel (3-0) answered with its own touchdown five minutes later as Jordan Black capped an 11-play, 75-yard drive with a one-yard run to tie the game at 7-7. Reggie Williams helped set up the score for the Bulldogs after reeling off a 35-yard rush to the Gardner-Webb nine-yard line.
The Runnin' Bulldogs regained the lead in the second quarter, hitting a 27-yard field goal with 13:29 left in the half to take a 10-7 lead. The Citadel threatened to score one possession later after a six-yard run by Cam Jackson put the Bulldogs on the two-yard line, but an illegal block penalty backed the Bulldogs up to the Gardner-Webb 17 and then a fumble gave the ball back to the Runnin' Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs defense responded on the next drive, forcing Gardner-Webb to turn the ball over on downs after its pass attempt on fourth-and-one was dropped.
The offense responded on its next possession after starting the drive on their own 32. The Citadel steadily chipped away with Williams and Jackson carrying the ball seven times before Dominique Allen broke out for a 33-yard run on third-and-18 to put the ball on the Gardner-Webb 16. Four plays later, the Bulldogs took the lead for the first time in the game thanks to a seven-yard rush by Rod Johnson to make it a 14-10 game.
Offensively, The Citadel averaged 7.5 yards per rush in the first half and had already totaled a single-game season-high 298 yards on the ground at halftime.
Gardner-Webb took the lead again on its third possession in the second half, scoring on a 28-yard rush to cap a four-play, 61-yard drive that ran just 1:33 off the clock. The score and PAT gave the Runnin' Bulldogs a 17-14 lead with 4:05 left on the clock.
Both teams were forced to punt on their next possessions and DeAndre Schoultz made GWU pay, returning the punt 81 yards to the house as time expired in the third quarter to give the Bulldogs a 21-17 lead. The return is the third longest in program history and longest by a Bulldog since 1971. It was also the first punt returned for a touchdown by the Bulldogs since Andre Roberts did so against Chattanooga in 2008.
The back-and-forth affair continued on Gardner-Webb's ensuing possession as the Runnin' Bulldogs retook the lead after connecting on a 19-yard pass to give them a 24-21 lead. The 15-play, 91-yard drive took 6:41 minutes off the clock, leaving 8:02 in the game.
The Citadel clinched the victory on its next drive. Using four different rushers, the Bulldogs marched down the field and Allen punched it in from one yard out to give The Citadel a 28-24 lead with 2:45 left in the game. The 10-play, 72-yard drive ran 5:11 off the clock, and Allen set up the game-winning touchdown after breaking loose for a 41-yard run to put the ball on the three-yard line. Allen finished with 108 yards rushing in the contest.
The Bulldogs' defense recorded two sacks and one tackle for loss on the next Gardner-Webb drive forcing them to go three-and-out and give the ball back to The Citadel on the GWU 36-yard line with 47 seconds left. Four plays later, Cody Clark connected on a 45-yard field goal to seal the 31-24 win.
Reggie Williams tallied a career-high 112 yards on the ground in the game, breaking his previous career high of 52 yards against VMI in 2015. Kailik Williams also posted a career high in the game as he recorded 14 tackles, bettering the 12 he had in last week's win against Furman.