Football team sustains heartbreaking loss to #13 App State

Photo by Natalie Wilkinson

By Allison Hubbard |

The Samford football team suffered a heartbreaking and controversial 28-25 loss against No. 13 Appalachian State in their homecoming game at Seibert Stadium on Saturday.

Mountaineer quarterback Jamal Jackson hit an open man in the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown pass with 22 seconds left in the game to give App State the win, improving their record to 5-2 on the season and 4-1 in conference play. The Bulldogs fall to 5-2 on the season and 3-2 in the SoCon.

“That’s one we wish we had back, but that’s not what won the ballgame,” Samford head coach Pat Sullivan said. “There were so many plays up and down. It was two good football teams playing out there. It just tears your guts out that you came up a play short.”

Photo by Natalie Wilkinson

Senior quarterback Andy Summerlin completed 18-of-30 passes for 270 yards. He had one touchdown and one interception in the game. Sophomore receiver Fabian Truss had eight catches for 113 yards, as well as 18 rushes for 46 yards and a touchdown in the game. Freshman halfback Tony Philpot also had a touchdown in the game.

On defense, sophomore geography major Jaquiski Tartt had 14 tackles, 11 of which were solo stops, and one interception for the Bulldogs. Senior linebacker Keith Shoulders had seven tackles in the game.

Samford jumped out with the lead in the opening drive of the game with a field goal from 25 yards out by senior place-kicker Cameron Yaw to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead. The Mountaineers answered later in the quarter with a touchdown to take a 7-3 lead.

The game took another lead change when Summerlin connected with Philpot for a one-yard touchdown with about two-and-a-half minutes left in the first quarter. The PAT by Yaw gave Samford a 10-7 advantage.

Halfway through the second quarter, App State scored on a 20-yard run to give them a four-point lead. The Mountaineers added a 48-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 21-10 going into the second half.

The third quarter remained scoreless for both teams, sending the Bulldogs into the final period with an 11-point deficit. With 14:41 left in the game, junior wide receiver Kelsey Pope scored on an 18-yard run. Summerlin found junior wide receiver Chris Cephus in the end zone for the two-point conversion to cut the lead to 21-18.  The Bulldogs took the lead with a one-yard run touchdown from Truss. Yaw’s extra point gave Samford a 25-21 lead with 7:37 left in the game.

Sophomore Stanley Robinson carries the ball in a 28-25 loss to Appalachian State on Saturday. Photo by Natalie Wilkinson.

Then, with 22 seconds remaining, App State scored to seal the victory. Most fans on the Samford side agree that the Mountaineer player, Sean Price, appeared to be out of bounds at the time of the completed pass.

Since the FCS does not allow either instant replay on controversial calls or a coach’s right to “challenge” a call, the Bulldogs were forced to accept defeat in the final seconds of the game.

Senior journalism and mass communication major Jordan Cox, an avid Samford fan, was shocked when he saw the referee signal a Mountaineer touchdown after the play.

“With the view I had, it looked like after [Price] laid out for the ball he landed on his back well out of bounds,” Cox said. “I saw [Samford defensive back] Alvin Hines signal that it was incomplete to the line judge by the pylon. Then I knew it was incomplete, and we were moving on to the next down. I couldn’t believe it when the official raised his arms into the air ruling the catch a touchdown.”

The Bulldogs look to take on rival UT-Chattanooga in the “Southern Rail Rivalry” in Chattanooga, Tennessee, this Saturday, Oct. 20 at 5:00 p.m. (CST).

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