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Big South Opponent Preview: Gardner-Webb

August 27, 2010  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty will begin the closing stretch of its 2010 regular season at home against Gardner-Webb on Nov. 6, 2010, inside Williams Stadium.

Liberty will begin the closing stretch of its 2010 regular season at home against Gardner-Webb on Nov. 6, 2010, inside Williams Stadium.

During this week between training camp and the Flames preparation week for St. Francis, is going to preview the Flames Big South Conference opponents. Each preview will include audio interviews with head coach Danny Rocco and the opposing head coach.

We continue today's week-long series by taking a look at Gardner-Webb. The Bulldogs program is predicted to finish in fifth place in this year's Big South Conference standings, as selected by the league's head coaches and media members.

The Bulldogs are coming off a 2009 season that opened strong for the program. Gardner-Webb won five of its first seven games, including a road win at Southern Conference foe Western Carolina. The Bulldogs' only losses early in the year were to FBS programs North Carolina State and Buffalo.

Two of the squad's opening five wins came against Big South Conference opponents, including a road win at VMI and a seven-point home victory against Charleston Southern. However, the Bulldogs hit a road block later in the year and could only muster one victory during their last four games (a season-ending road win at Presbyterian).

Under the leadership of Steve Patton, a 14-year veteran at Gardner-Webb and the "dean" of Big South football coaches, the Bulldogs will be looking to make a charge in 2010 at the league title that has eluded them since winning the conference's first two titles in 2002 and 2003.

Gardner-Webb returns nine out of 11 starters on defense, including Preseason Big South Defensive Player of the Year Marty Patterson. The senior linebacker was the lone defensive player in the Big South to surpass 100 tackles in 2009, as he led the league with 110 stops, including 14 tackles for a loss.

The Flames have won the last three meetings in the series with the Bulldogs, including the last two in Boiling Springs, N.C. Gardner-Webb leads the overall series, 8-7-1, which dates back to 1976, while the programs have evenly split eight games since Big South play started in 2002.

The two programs' last meeting was a tale of two halves, as Gardner-Webb hung with No. 16 Liberty in the opening half. A Matt Bevins 27-yard field goal in the closing seconds of the first half to cut Gardner-Webb's lead to one point, 28-27, at intermission on Nov. 14, 2009.

However, Liberty was the only team to find the scoreboard in the second half with 24 additional points, taking the game, 51-28, and winning its last game during its Big South record 16-game league winning streak.

In their last meeting at Williams Stadium, No. 22/24 Liberty finished off a perfect 5-0 Big South season with a 30-10 victory over the visiting Bulldogs on Nov. 14, 2008. Liberty's victory allows the Flames to become the first team in league history to win five conference games in a season and to join Gardner-Webb as the only two teams to post consecutive unbeaten seasons.

Location: Boiling Springs, N.C.
Enrollment: 4,300

Founded: 1905
Nickname: Bulldogs
Colors: Scarlet and Black
Conference: Big South
Stadium: Ernest W. Spangler Stadium (9,000)
Surface: Natural Grass (Bermuda)
President: Dr. Frank Bonner
Athletic Director: Chuck Burch

Head Coach: Steve Patton (Furman, '77)
Record at School: 85-58 (13 Years)
Career Record: 113-82-1 (17 Years)
Assistant Coaches:
Joe Pizzo - Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
John Windham - Defensive Coordinator
Travis Cunningham - Linebackers
Kris King - Offensive Line
Bryant Foster - Secondary
Bobby Godina - Defensive Line
Chris Foster - Running Backs
Ian Cooper – Receivers

Offensive Formation: Spread
Defensive Formation: Multiple
Lettermen Returning: 49 (25 Off., 20 Def., 4 SP)
Lettermen Lost: 19 (8 Off., 7 Def., 2 SP)
Starters Returning: 19 (8 Off., 9 Def., 2 SP)
Starters Lost: 8 (3 Off., 3 Def., 2 SP)
Offensive/Defensive Starters Returning: 8/9
Offensive Starters Returning: C.J. Bryant (OL), Jamie Dunaway, Patrick Hall (RB), Josh Miller (TE), Corey O'Daniel (OL), James Perry III (WR), Tyson Petty (WR), Marquis Sanders (WR)
Defensive Starters Returning: Lyndrez Leslie (S), Cedric McGowan (DB), Bryce Nixon (DB), Marty Patterson (LB), Keron Phelps (FS), Nelson Rushing (NG), Dami Teniola (LB), Jeffrey Williams (LB), Jordan Woods (DL)

Athletics Web Site - Link
2009 Record: 6-5 – Link to Results
Conference Record/Finish: 3-3/T3rd
2009 Statistics – Link to Statistics
2010 Schedule – Link to Schedule

Series Results
Series Record: Gardner-Webb leads the series, 8-7-1
Last Meeting at Home: Nov. 15, 2008
Liberty, 30-10 – Link to RecapBox Score
Last Meeting on the Road: Nov. 14, 2009
Liberty, 51-28 – Link to RecapBox Score
Current Series Streak: Liberty, W3