No. 25 Samford suffers first loss of the season to Georgia Southern

Jaquiski Tartt returned a fumble 80 yards for a touchdown Saturday night at Georgia Southern. (Caroline Summers/Samford)


The No. 25 Samford football team suffered its first defeat of the 2012 season in a 35-16 setback at ninth-ranked Georgia Southern in Southern Conference action Saturday night at Paulson Stadium.{}"Give Georgia Southern credit, they are a good football team," Samford head coach Pat Sullivan said. "We didn't play as well as we can play. We gave them a touchdown on an interception, but you saw what an option team can do. We'd stop them on one play and then they'd hit a big play on a missed assignment."{}Samford drops to 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the Southern Conference with the loss. Georgia Southern improves to 3-1 overall and 2-1 in league play.{}Samford was led offensively by senior quarterback Andy Summerlin, completing 23-of-49 passes for a career-high 291 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Kelsey Pope caught eight passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. Fabian Truss rushed 19 times for 50 yards.{}Jaquiski Tartt led the Samford defense with 12 tackles, including eight solo stops. Tartt also had one fumble recovery, which he returned 80 yards for a touchdown. Darion Sutton had 10 tackles, while Trey Wesley had his first career interception in the loss.{}Samford punter Greg Peranich averaged 43.2 yards on nine punts. Place-kicker Cameron Yaw was good on his lone field goal attempt from 20-yards out, and on his only extra-point attempt. Yaw also averaged 65.0 yards on four kickoffs, with three of those kickoffs going for touchbacks.{}For Georgia Southern, quarterback Jerick McKinnon rushed 13 times for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Dominique Swope had 21 rushes for 133 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively for GSU, Lavelle Westbrooks had an interception he returned 72 yards for a touchdown.{}Georgia Southern scored on its first offensive possession of the game. Swope scored on a 12-yard run with 10:25 left in the first quarter. Alex Hanks added the extra point to give GSU a 7-0 lead.{}Samford put its first points on the scoreboard on its final possession of the first quarter. Yaw kicked a 20-yard field goal with 46.7 seconds left in the opening quarter to cut Georgia Southern's lead to 7-3.{}The Bulldogs took the lead on their first offensive drive of the second quarter. Summerlin connected with Pope for a seven-yard touchdown. Yaw added the extra point to give Samford a 10-7 lead with 11:47 left in the second quarter.{}Georgia Southern answered on its next drive to take the lead again. McKinnon scored on a 41-yard run with 10:28 left in the second quarter. Hanks' PAT gave the Eagles a 14-10 lead. With 4:09 left before halftime, Samford was driving in GSU territory, but GSU's Westbrooks picked off a Summerlin pass and returned it 72 yards for a touchdown. Hanks added the PAT to make the score 21-10.{}In the third quarter, Samford's Tartt returned a GSU fumble 80 yards for a touchdown. Summerlin's pass on the two-point conversion attempt was incomplete to cut GSU's lead to 21-16 with 5:57 to go in the third quarter. On the very next play from scrimmage, however, GSU's McKinnon ran 67 yards for a touchdown. Hanks added the PAT with 5:40 left in the third quarter to push the Eagles' lead to 28-16.{}GSU's Swope scored the game's final touchdown on a 40-yard run with 1:30 left in the game. Hanks' PAT made the final score 35-16.{}As a team, Samford produced 354 yards of total offense, while GSU had 394 total yards. Samford was 8-of-21 on third-down conversions, with Georgia Southern going 0-for-10 on third downs.{}Samford will return home for the first time in nearly a month when the Bulldogs play host to The Citadel on Saturday, Oct. 6. Kickoff for the game is scheduled for a 2 p.m. kickoff from Seibert Stadium.