Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The slogan of the Gardner-Webb football
team this season is "Red Storm Rising."
The Runnin' Bulldogs reversed it this past Saturday night when they actually
rose through a storm. On Monday, they rose into The Sports Network FCS Top 25
for the first time in 11 years at No. 25.
Gardner-Webb's 3-0 win in a rainstorm at Wofford was its second straight over
nationally ranked opponent and marked the highest-rated team to fall to the
Runnin' Bulldogs. Wofford was ranked No. 10 at the time.
As Gardner-Webb returned to the rankings, North Dakota State, the two-time
defending FCS champion, strengthened its hold on No. 1 by collecting 157 of
158 first-place votes and 3,949 points. The Bison shut out Delaware State,
51-0, this past Saturday.
Eastern Washington, which earned the other first-place vote, remained at No.
while Towson moved up one spot to No. 3 in the national poll selected weekly
a panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters,
writers and other dignitaries.
Gardner-Webb's upset at Wofford came on the heels of its 12-10 win at
Jordan Day provided all of the Runnin' Bulldogs' points in both wins with
The Big South Conference member, located in Boiling Springs, N.C., has a 3-1
record under first-year head coach Carroll McCray. The Runnin' Bulldogs
running back Juanne Blount and wide receiver Kenny Cook on offense and a
standout front seven on defense, including leading tackler and linebacker
Tanner Burch. Nose tackle O.J. Mau was named The Sports Network FCS defensive
player of the week on Monday for his standout performance against Wofford.
Gardner-Webb's appearance in The Sports Network FCS Top 25 is its first since
the end of the 2002 season, when the Runnin' Bulldogs finished 9-1 in their
third year on the FCS level.
"When I first looked at this schedule, it was intimidating," McCray said. "The
first three teams (Furman, Marshall, Richmond) all have national championships
in their trophy case. Wofford is one of a small group of programs that has
to the playoffs five times in the past six seasons. Obviously, we are thrilled
to have gotten off to a great start. There are areas we must continue to try
and correct. Those games are behind us now and we need to continue to improve
ourselves and play the next team up. Our conference has gotten off to an
impressive start as a group, and when those games begin in October, it will be
another very tough stretch."
The FCS schedule on Saturday will feature three matchups among the nine
highest-ranked teams. North Dakota State (3-0) will open its Missouri Valley
Football Conference schedule at No. 6 South Dakota State (3-1). Eastern
Washington (2-1) will visit No. 4 Sam Houston State (3-1) in a non-conference
game which also is a rematch of Sam Houston's 45-42 win at EWU in the 2012
national semifinals. In addition, No. 5 Northern Iowa (3-0) will host No. 9
McNeese State (4-0) in non-conference action.
The rest of the Top 10 included No. 3 Towson (4-0), No. 7 Montana (3-0), No. 8
Eastern Illinois (3-1) and No. 10 New Hampshire (1-1).
Next up was No. 11 Montana State (2-2), which fell eight spots after losing to
unranked Stephen F. Austin. The Bobcats were followed by No. 12 Coastal
Carolina (4-0), No. 13 Central Arkansas (2-2), No. 14 James Madison (3-1), No.
15 Georgia Southern (2-1), No. 16 Fordham (4-0), No. 17 Wofford (2-2), No. 18
Cal Poly (1-2), No. 19 Villanova (1-2) and No. 20 Bethune-Cookman (3-1).
Rounding out the Top 25 were No. 21 Lehigh (3-0), No. 22 Richmond (2-2), No.
UT Martin (2-1), No. 24 Northern Arizona (2-1) and Gardner-Webb.
Stony Brook fell from the Top 25 after losing to Villanova.
In the Top 25 voting, a first-place vote is worth 25 points, a second-place
vote 24 points, all the way down to one point for a 25th-place vote.
During the regular season, the Top 25 will be released every Monday afternoon,
except for the final weekend, when it will be released Sunday morning, Nov.
17, prior to the selection of the FCS playoff field.
The final Top 25 will be released on the Monday after the FCS championship
game Jan. 4 in Frisco, Texas.
The Sports Network