BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. (AP) Tyrell Maxwell rushed for three touchdowns and threw for one more, leading Gardner-Webb to a 34-20 win over Liberty on Saturday in the Big South opener for both teams.
The Bulldogs led by as many as 20 points on two occasions, but Liberty closed the gap to 7 on a pair of John Lunsford field goals and Zac Parker's 71-yard punt return. Parker muffed a punt with 3:14 left, giving Gardner-Webb the ball at Liberty's 5, and Maxwell's 5-yard run iced the game.
After Jonathan Blackmon's 14-yard run opened the scoring, Maxwell ran for scores of 45 and 1 to give Gardner-Webb (2-3) a 20-0 lead midway through the second quarter. Maxwell ran for 176 yards on 30 carries and completed 10 of 15 passes for 105 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
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Liberty (3-3) had won eight straight in the series. Josh Woodrum was 30 of 45 for 307 yards.