Summerlin leads Samford past Florida A&M 27-20

Samford quarterback Andy Summerlin. (Samford Athletics Photo)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The Samford football team built a big early lead and held on late for a 27-20 win at Florida A&M Saturday afternoon at Bragg Memorial Stadium. With the win, Samford improves to 2-1, while Florida A&M drops to 1-2 with the loss. "This was a tough game," Samford assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Bill D'Ottavio said. "We got off to a fast start and felt like we were getting things under control. But we made a couple of mistakes and FAMU came roaring back and it was a tough, hard-fought football game and we were happy to win it." D'Ottavio filled in for Samford head coach Pat Sullivan, who is continuing to recover from back surgery. Samford built a 17-0 lead in the first quarter, but the Rattlers fought back and the Bulldogs had to hold on for the seven-point win. Samford sophomore safety Josh Kimberlin intercepted three passes in the win to lead the Bulldog defense. The three interceptions were the first of Kimberlin's Samford career. "I wasn't in there for that many plays," Kimberlin said. "The ball ended up just coming to me and I'm thankful and blessed to be able to get the interceptions." Cody Brooks led the team in tackles with eight, including four solo stops. Brooks and Jerry Mathis also had one blocked kick each. Offensively for Samford, senior running back Fabian Truss rushed 26 times for 115 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Andy Summerlin completed 19-of-29 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown, but he threw two interceptions, both of which were returned for touchdowns. Place-kicker Warren Handrahan made both of his field goal attempts, one from 47 yards and the other from 19 yards out. Punter Greg Peranich averaged 48.7 yards on three punts. For Florida A&M, Damien Fleming completed 11-of-19 passes for 139 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Defensively for FAMU, Patrick Aiken and Devonte Johnson both intercepted Samford passes and returned them for touchdowns. Bobby Jackson and Michael Ducre shared the team lead in tackles with nine each. Samford jumped on top on its first offensive possession of the game. Handrahan kicked a 47-yard field goal to give Samford a 3-0 lead with 11:30 to go in the first quarter. The Bulldogs scored their first touchdown of the game on their second drive of the contest. Truss scored on an eight-yard run with 7:53 left in the opening period. Handrahan added the extra point to give Samford a 10-0 lead. Samford struck again on its next possession. Summerlin scored on a one-yard run, and Handrahan added the PAT for a 17-0 Samford lead with 2:30 to go in the first quarter. The drive was set up when Brooks blocked a FAMU punt, giving Samford the ball at the Rattlers' 24-yard line. Florida A&M put its first points on the scoreboard early in the second quarter. Aiken intercepted a Summerlin pass and returned it 93 yards for a touchdown. Chase Varnadore added the extra point to cut the Samford lead to 17-7 with 12:08 to go in the second quarter. The Rattlers added another score late in the second quarter. Fleming hit Casey Glines on a five-yard touchdown with 5:15 to go before halftime. The extra point attempt was blocked, making the score 17-13. Samford answered on its next possession when Summerlin hit Karel Hamilton for a nine-yard touchdown. Handrahan's extra point made the score 24-13 with 56 seconds left in the second quarter. In the third quarter, FAMU's Johnson picked off a Summerlin pass and returned it 28 yards for another Ratter touchdown. Varnadore added the PAT to cut the Samford lead to 24-20 with 7:11 to go in the third quarter. The Bulldogs put the final points on the scoreboard with 13:23 to go in the fourth quarter when Handrahan kicked a 19-yard field goal to make the score 27-20. Both of Florida A&M's last two drives ended in Kimberlin interceptions, sealing the win for Samford. Samford will play its home opener next Saturday, Sept. 21, when the Bulldogs play host to Southeastern Louisiana. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Seibert Stadium.