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BSC Opponent 2012 Preview: Gardner-Webb
As the football team continues its August training camp, LibertyFlames.com will be taking a look at each of the Flames' Big South opponents, continuing today with Gardner-Webb.
Along with today's brief preview of the Runnin' Bulldogs, LibertyFlames.com has provided an audio interview with Gardner-Webb Head Coach Ron Dickerson, Jr. and FSN reporter Nick Pierce (click audio player link above to listen to the interview).
During Dickerson's first year in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb posted a 4-7 record and a 2-4 mark in Big South play. The Runnin' Bulldogs started to grasp Dickerson's style of play later in the season, with three of the team's four victories coming during the second half of the year.
The same win-loss pattern may follow Gardner-Webb again in 2012, but it will not be due to being under a first-year head football coach. The front half of the Running' Bulldogs schedule is one of the more daunting ones Gardner-Webb has faced in recent history.
Top Southern Conference contenders Wofford and Samford spotlight the team's home slate, while Gardner-Webb will take to the road to face Richmond and FBS foe Pittsburgh before opening Big South play in October.
Gardner-Webb returns 46 letterwinners and 20 starters (11 offense, nine defense) from last year's team.
Behind Liberty (eight honorees) and Stony Brook (six honorees), Gardner-Webb ranked third in the league when the Big South released its preseason all-conference teams at Big South Media Day. Running back Kenny Little and offensive linemen Jamie Dunaway and Steve Demilio were named to the preseason all-conference squad, along with defensive linemen Preston Pemasa and Matt Goods.
Little ranked No. 2 in the Big South in 2011, rushing for 1,042 yards with Dunaway and Demilio blocking for him. Little also ranked No. 9 in scoring (4.7 points per game) and No. 5 in all-purpose yards (129.2 yards per game).
Pemasa finished the season atop the league standings with 13.5 tackles for a loss (61 yards) and was the top lineman in the Big South with 4.6 tackles per game (20 solo, 26 assisted). Goods was Gardner-Webb's No. 2 defensive lineman with 3.4 tackles per game (18 solo, 16 assisted).
Liberty has controlled the series with the Runnin' Bulldogs of late, having reeled off five-straight victories to push ahead 9-8-1 in the overall series. In the previous five meetings, the Flames have won by an average margin of 26.4 points per game and have allowed more than two touchdowns in a game only once (51-28 victory in 2009).
For the second year in a row, the Flames will open up Big South play against the Runnin' Bulldogs. This year's match-up on Oct. 6 will be a busy weekend around Liberty Mountain, with the game being the culminating element of Homecoming Weekend.
Liberty completely controlled the pace of play last year, nearly doubling up Gardner-Webb in terms of total offensive yards (494 to 288), while keeping the Runnin' Bulldogs out of the end zone in a 35-3 victory on Oct. 8, 2011, in Boiling Springs.
The last time the two teams met in Williams Stadium, Liberty scored 19 special teams points (four field goals and a kickoff return for a touchdown) and got two lengthy touchdown passes from Mike Brown to Chris Summers to post a 40-14 win on Nov. 6, 2010.
Last Game against Gardner-Webb:
Oct. 8, 2011 – Liberty 35, Gardner-Webb 3 – Recap, Box Score
Last Home Game against Gardner-Webb:
Nov. 6, 2010 – Liberty 40, Gardner-Webb 14 – Recap, Box Score
The Flames will give the Liberty University Class of 2016 its first look at the program tomorrow evening. Following the annual Chancellor's Kickoff event, where Chancellor Falwell will welcome the university's newest students to campus, Liberty will hold its 14th practice of August.
While the Chancellor's Kickoff is closed to the general public, the Flames will open the Williams Stadium gates to all on Saturday evening for a scrimmage and the inaugural Flames Fan Fest. The scrimmage will start at 7 p.m., followed by a meet-and-greet with Liberty's coaches and players.
Season and single-game tickets remain on sale for the 2012 season through the Flames Ticket Office. For more information about tickets, contact the Flames Ticket Office at (434) 582-SEAT (7328) or by email at email@example.com.