BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. — Gardner-Webb football picked up three weekly awards from the Big South Conference following Saturday’s 35-27 homecoming win over Hampton.
Of the recipients was former Heritage standout Devron Harper, who was named Big South Freshman of the Week for his strong performance on offense.
After tearing onto the scene as a standout kick returner, Harper made his presence known on offense for the Runnin’ Bulldogs and hauled in his first career touchdown pass.
Harper finished the game with four catches for 187 yards and a 70-yard touchdown in the 24-21 win over Hampton. He added a 25-yard kickoff return and finished with 206 all-purpose yards – his third game with at least 200 all-purpose yards already this season.
Harper’s 70-yard catch-and-run from Kalen Whitlow with 10:44 to play before halftime gave Gardner-Webb a 21-17 lead. His biggest play, however, didn’t reach the end zone. It did create a wild buzz in the Spangler Stadium stands and set up the eventual game winning score.
With Gardner-Webb down 24-21 late in the third quarter, Whitlow hit Harper over the middle and — after a stutter-step move near midfield — Harper raced all the way to the Pirates’ three-yard line before being cut off.
The 90-yard reception paid off on the next play, as Whitlow tossed a three-yard touchdown to Izaiah Gathings to give GWU the lead for good.
Harper’s 90-yarder broke a 31-year old school record for longest pass play, which was set on October 15, 1988 against Catawba by Bruce Benson and Kelvin Richardson.
The play is the longest non-touchdown catch in Big South history and is the longest reception in the league books for a freshman.
Harper averaged an eye-popping 46.8 yards per catch on the day and now leads Gardner-Webb with an average of 24.9 yards per catch on the season.
He continues to rank among the national leaders in return yardage, all-purpose yardage and yards per catch.