Samford rolls to 62-23 win over WCU in SoCon opener
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The Samford football team opened Southern Conference play with a 62-23 win over Western Carolina Saturday afternoon at Seibert Stadium. The game was played in front of a crowd of 8,625 fans. The 62 points are the most Samford has scored in a SoCon game since joining the league in 2008. The point total also ties for the most of the Pat Sullivan era, tying the Bulldogs' 62-0 win over Faulkner in 2008. "We challenged our football team to get better in every phase, and to just worry about ourselves and not worry about anybody else," Samford head coach Pat Sullivan said. "I thought our coaches, players and everybody did that. We made some big plays in all areas, and we'll have to do that again these next few weeks in the Southern Conference." Samford senior quarterback Andy Summerlin completed 16-of-22 passes for 327 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. Chris Cephus caught three passes for 86 yards and a touchdown, while Karel Hamilton caught three passes for 42 yards and two touchdowns, while Gavin Sinclair had two catches for 74 yards and a touchdown. Fabian Truss only returned one kickoff, but he made it count, taking it back for a 100-yard touchdown in the second quarter. The play marked his second 100-yard return of the year. He took the opening kickoff of Samford's season opener at Georgia State back for a 100-yard score as well. Truss rushed 11 times for 60 yards and a touchdown in the win. D'Morrise Bledsoe led Samford's running game with eight carries for 68 yards and a touchdown. Jeremiaha Gates had 11 rushes for 42 yards, while Stanley Robinson rushed five times for 17 yards and a score. The Samford defense was led by Justin Shade with 12 tackles, including eight solo stops and one sack. Bobby Wilson finished with 10 tackles, including eight solo tackles. For Western Carolina, quarterback Troy Mitchell rushed 16 times for 77 yards and a touchdown. He also completed 15-of-33 passes for 202 yards. Darius Ramsey had 14 rushes for 69 yards and a touchdown. The WCU defense was led by Sertonuse Harris, with 10 tackles, including six solo stops. Samford struck first late in the first quarter. Summerlin hit Hamilton for a six-yard touchdown with 3:49 to go in the first quarter. The score, which capped an eight-play, 57-yard drive that took 2:51, gave Samford a 7-0 lead. The Bulldogs added another score on their final possession of the first quarter. Michael Pierce, Samford's starting defensive end, scored on a three-yard run with 31 seconds left in the first quarter, giving Samford a 14-0 lead. Western Carolina put its first points on the scoreboard on its first drive of the third quarter. Mitchell scored on a 29-yard run with 13:42 to go in the second quarter. The score cut the Samford lead to 14-7. The Catamounts cut the Samford lead to 14-10 when Richard Sigmon kicked a 27-yard field goal with 6:52 left in the second quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, Truss returned the kick 100 yards for a touchdown. The score gave Samford a 21-10 lead with 6:35 to go in the second quarter and turned the momentum of the game in Samford's favor. On their next possession, Samford added to its lead when Summerlin hit Cephus for a 52-yard touchdown. The score increased Samford's lead to 28-10 with 3:33 left in the second quarter. In the third quarter, Summerlin hit Sinclair for a 68-yard touchdown with 10:12 to go to make the score 35-10. Truss then scored on a 16-yard run to push the lead to 42-10 with 6:44 left in the third quarter. Western Carolina answered when Ramsey scored on a one-yard run with 4:49 left in the third quarter. The extra point was missed to make the score 42-16. Summerlin then hit Hamilton for a 25-yard touchdown with 3:27 left in the third quarter to push the Samford lead to 49-16. Robinson scored on a two-yard run with 11:26 left in the fourth quarter to make the score 56-16. The Bulldogs' final scored came when Bledsoe scored on a 27-yard run with 5:38 left. The PAT was blocked to make the score 62-16. Western Carolina put the final points on the scoreboard. Shaun Warren scored on a five-yard run with 3:44 left to make the final score 62-23. The Samford offense finished with 589 total yards, marking the second-straight game the Bulldogs have produced over 500 yards of total offense. Western Carolina tallied 443 yards of total offense. With the win, Samford improves to 3-2 overall and 1-0 in Southern Conference play. Western Carolina drops to 1-4 overall and 0-2 in league play. Samford will return to action on Saturday, Oct. 5, when the Bulldogs play host to Georgia Southern. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Seibert Stadium.