Allison Hubbard – Sports Writer |
What started off as a nostalgic and bittersweet day for many Samford seniors ended up being called “the greatest game in Samford history” as the football team defeated sixth-ranked Wofford in a thrilling, double-overtime 24-17 victory at Seibert Stadium this past weekend.
Saturday’s game marked the last home game for the seniors. The team honored these players and their families for their hard work and dedication during a presentation on the field before the game.
With the win, the Bulldogs improve to 6-3 overall and 4-3 in the SoCon, while the Terriers fall to 7-2 on the season and 5-2 in conference play. The win guarantees back-to-back winning seasons for Samford for the first time since 1998 and 1999.
Samford head coach Pat Sullivan was proud of the way his team played on all sides of the ball in the win.
“I can’t say enough about the way our defense played,” Sullivan said. “The offense played well and the special teams played well all day. This was truly a team win, and that is what we have needed around here.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Samford made a field goal with just less than 10 minutes left in the second quarter. Wofford scored a touchdown late in the second quarter, taking the lead 7-3 lead. The Terriers added a field goal as time expired to head into halftime with a 10-3 advantage.
“I came in and really challenged them at halftime that if we came out and played every play like it was the fourth quarter, because we’ve been winning all of our fourth quarters, we were good enough,” Sullivan said. “Then we go out there and the defense just played lights out, and the offense really moved the ball, and we didn’t get it in, but we got points every time and that just kept the momentum going.”
Senior kicker Cameron Yaw made another field goal on the first Samford drive of the second half to cut the Terrier lead to 10-6. With 15 seconds left in the third quarter, Yaw struck again to narrow the game to one point with the Bulldogs trailing 10-9.
With 1:52 left in the fourth, Wofford scored off of a two-yard run to take a 17-9 lead. Samford had 1:45 left in the game on their own 28-yard line. The ‘Dogs blazed through a 78-yard, 10-play possession in which senior quarterback Andy Summerlin hit redshirt sophomore tight end Trett Hardman for a one-yard touchdown as time expired, giving the Bulldogs just a two-point deficit.
Samford attempted the two-point conversion, and the pass was ruled incomplete. However, a Wofford penalty gave the Bulldogs another opportunity half the distance from the goal.
This time, Summerlin connected with redshirt junior receiver Chris Cephus to tie the game at 17-17 forcing overtime. The anxious Samford crowd, who participated in a “red out” for the game, erupted.
In the first possession in overtime, Wofford missed a 33-yard field goal attempt. Samford drove to the Terrier 16-yard line, but Yaw’s 34-yard attempt sailed wide left, sending the game into double OT.
Then, Summerlin found junior wide receiver Kelsey Pope in the end zone. Pope caught the pass for a 12-yard Samford touchdown. Yaw made the PAT to make the score 24-17.
Wofford still had the opportunity to answer. On the first play of the ensuing possession, the Terriers fumbled the ball, and Samford senior safety Alvin Hines recovered, ending the game and ensuring the Bulldogs’ come-from-behind victory.
“It was the most gut-wrenching, intense game I have ever seen,” said senior economics major Jacob Dyke. “I could see how much Samford wanted the game—the players, the coaches, the fans. It was incredible.”
Samford looks to play its final conference game next Saturday in Elon, N.C. as the Bulldogs take on the Elon Phoenix at 12:30 p.m. (CST).