The Citadel Falls at Samford in Battle of the Bulldogs
Birmingham, Ala. – Andy Summerlin completed 23 of 32 passes for 320 yards, including an 82-yard touchdown strike to Riley Hawkins to snatch momentum away from The Citadel in the third quarter, leading Samford to a 38-7 victory over the Bulldogs in a Southern Conference game Saturday.
The loss was the third in a row for The Citadel (3-3, 2-2), which will likely see its run of four straight weeks in the national polls come to an end. The Bulldogs entered the week ranked No. 19 by The Sports Network and No. 24 in the FCS Coaches poll.
Rickey Anderson was one of the lone bright spots for The Citadel, rushing for 80 yards and scoring on a 55-yard sprint to pull the Bulldogs within 14-7 with 10:37 left in the third quarter. But the host Bulldogs (5-1, 3-1) responded just 1:18 later when Hawkins raced past cornerback Brandon McCladdie, who slipped on the play, and hauled in the Summerlin throw to make it 21-7.
The play marked the third-longest passing touchdown against The Citadel since game records are available in 1966. Samford added a 33-yard field goal by Cameron Yaw late in the third quarter and fourth quarter touchdown runs by Stanley Robinson (one yard) and D'Morrise Bledsoe (10 yards) to break the game open.
Samford piled up 569 yards to only 304 for The Citadel, with Fabian Truss adding a game-high 114 yards on the ground. Ben Dupree followed Anderson with 66 rushing yards for The Citadel and also threw for 63 yards, 48 coming on a first quarter connection to Matt Thompson that went for naught when Thomas Warren's 37-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Jaquiski Tartt.
On The Citadel's next possession, Tartt reared his head again, this time picking off a Dupree pass and racing 65 yards for a touchdown to give Samford a 7-0 lead with 3:36 left in the first quarter. Tartt picked up in October where he left off in September when he was named the SoCon Defensive Player of the Month.
Samford threatened to score again early in the second quarter, driving from its 15 to The Citadel 5, but Domonic Jones rejected a 22-yard field goal try by Yaw to keep it a one-score game. The block was the third of the season for Jones, including two field goals and a punt, and eighth in the past two years.
Yaw missed again when his 46-yard attempt hit the left upright with 7:34 left in the quarter, but The Citadel could not take advantage and was forced to punt for the third straight series, with the Cass Couey kick downed at the Samford 8.
Samford then methodically marched down the field, converting a pair of third downs and achieving eight first downs before Summerlin snuck in from the one to boost the Samford lead to 14-0 at halftime.
The Citadel defense provided a spark on Samford's second offensive play of the second quarter when Justin Oxendine forced the ball out of Summerlin's hands and Mitchell Jeter recovered at midfield. After a penalty against the Bulldogs, Anderson took a pitch from Dupree and galloped down The Citadel sideline to score his sixth touchdown of the season and momentarily get the visitors back in the game.
The Bulldogs also lost more than the game as Rah Muhammad suffered an ankle injury on the Jones' field goal block in the second quarter. The sophomore linebacker did not return to the game, and the extent of the injury was not known immediately following the game.
Muhammad is the second linebacker injured in as many weeks. Carl Robinson was lost for the season in last week's loss to Chattanooga with a torn ACL.
Carson Smith, the last standing member of The Citadel's trio of sophomore linebackers, led the Bulldogs with a game-high 12 tackles and also broke up two passes. Derek Douglas had his second sack in as many weeks since returning to the starting lineup.
Couey enjoyed an outstanding game punting, kicking seven times for an average of 45.1 yards, including a 60-yarder, and put four punts inside 20 and three inside the 10. Couey is averaging 41.0 yards per punt in his career, the second-best figure in Citadel history.
The Citadel will look to snap its skid next Saturday when Western Carolina visits Johnson Hagood Stadium for Parent's Day. Kickoff for the SoCon contest is at 2 p.m. Samford hosts Appalachian State in its Homecoming game next week.