Samford falls short to no. 14 ranked Georgia in Athens

Shaheed Salmon | COURTESY OF SAMFORD ATHLETICS

 

Collin Reese, Sports Writer

It was one of those warm, fall Saturday nights. An estimated 92,746 fans packed into Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia to see another anticipated football game, “Between the Hedges.” This game featured the Bulldogs of Georgia, against the Bulldogs of Samford.

This game also featured two head coaches, Chris Hatcher for Samford and Kirby Smart for Georgia, that go back quite a few years. While Hatcher was the Head Coach at Valdosta State from 2000-2006, Kirby Smart served for two years on Hatcher’s staff in 2000 as the secondary coach, and 2001 as the defensive coordinator. The game was set to be a great one, as Georgia had just come off of an impressive win the previous week that saw them win a one point contest over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Samford came in after having had two impressive wins on their record, against the likes of Kennesaw State and West Alabama. This game was also a milestone, as it was the largest crowd on record that a Samford football team had ever played a game in front of. Many spectators reminisced back to last season, when Samford went to Starkville, Mississippi, and was able to put 41 points on the scoreboard against another formidable SEC opponent in Mississippi State.

So many wondered, “Could this happen again?”

The game started out fast, as Georgia got the ball and marched down to the Samford 44 yard line. After three impressive defensive plays that followed, Horace Roberts stopped Georgia running back Nick Chubb on a 4th and 1 play that gave the ball back to the “Bulldogs from Birmingham.” Samford Junior quarterback Devlin Hodges led

Devlin Hodges | COURTESY OF SAMFORD ATHLETICS

the team to a great effort offensively, connecting on 26 of his 35 passes for 227 through the air and two touchdowns.

 

“They are the 13th ranked team in the country and they’re ranked that for a reason,” said quarterback Devlin Hodges.

“I thought offensively besides a couple of missed balls we had and fumbles on snaps offensively it’s one of the better games we played. We got a lot to work on but it’s good just to see us compete and we got a lot of games left.”

Junior receiver Kelvin McKnight led Samford in the receiving game with seven catches for 58 yards and a touchdown. However, at the end of the day, Georgia’s high powered offense proved why it is considered one of the SEC’s best. Senior running back Nick Chubb ran the ball 16 times for 133 yards and two scores on the day. Offensively, Georgia outgained Samford 459 yards to 249 yards.

The “Bulldogs of Athens” scored 21 points to start off the game, before Samford added a touchdown to set the score at 21-7 heading into the locker room at halftime. Georgia came out in the second half in similar fashion, as they scored three straight touchdowns in the half to make the score 42-7. In the fourth quarter, Samford’s Hodges connected with Kelvin McKnight to make the score 42-14, which would be how things would end when the clock ran out to end the game.

“We played extremely hard,” said head coach Chris Hatcher.

”It was good to see us compete and we got a little better in certain areas and there’s other areas we need to continue to improve on. I’m disappointed we didn’t win the game but I’m also very proud of the way the guys fought until the finish.”

Samford opens up conference play this upcoming week as the Bulldogs go on the road to face Western Carolina on Saturday, Sept. 23. The Bulldogs then return home to face The Citadel on Sept. 30 for Family Weekend.

 

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