Bulldogs Earn SoCon Road Win At Western Carolina, 42-37

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CULLOWHEE, N.C. –

The Samford football team picked up a hard-fought, 42-37 SoCon road win at Western Carolina in the Southern Conference opener for both teams Saturday at E.J. Whitmire Stadium.
 
The game was delayed by a more than two-hour weather delay in the first quarter. With the win, Samford improves to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in Southern Conference play. Western Carolina falls to 0-3 overall and 0-1 in league play.
 
After building a big lead in the first half, Samford had to come from behind to win in the fourth quarter. Samford head coach Chris Hatcher said he was proud of the fight his players showed.
 
“It was an awfully long and crazy day and I thought we had the game in control several times, and to their credit, they did a great job of fighting back,” Samford head coach Chris Hatcher said. “At the end of the day, it’s about finding a way and our guys found a way today with some big plays, and especially some big plays in the clutch. I’m just proud of the effort and our find-a-way attitude.”
 
The Samford defense continued to be opportunistic, forcing four turnovers, three interceptions and one fumble. Wade White, Noah Martin and Chris Edmonds had an interception each. White also had a fumble recovery in the game. Trimarcus Cheeks led the team in tackles with nine, followed by Nathan East with eight.
 
Offensively for Samford, DeMarcus Ware rushed 26 times for 118 yards and three touchdowns. Liam Welch completed 27-of-48 passes for 352 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions. Michael Vice had five catches for 60 yards, while Jai’Rus Creamer hauled in four passes for 76 yards. Montrell Washington caught a touchdown pass, catching three passes for 45 yards.
 
For Western Carolina, Rogan Wells completed 25-of-57 passes for 321 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. Andreas Keaton had two interceptions to lead the Catamount defense.
 
Both offenses had promising drives to open the game, but both ended in turnovers. Samford’s White recovered a WCU fumble to end the Catamounts’ opening drive, while WCU’s Keaton picked off a Samford pass to stop Samford’s opening threat.
 
With 9:10 to go in the first quarter, lightning was detected in the area, causing a delay that lasted a little over two hours.
 
Samford put the first points on the scoreboard when Ware scored on a 44-yard run to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead with 6:09 left in the first quarter. The drive was set up when White picked off a WCU pass, giving Samford the ball at the Catamounts’ 48-yard line.
 
The Bulldogs’ next score was also set up by a turnover when Martin picked off a pass and returned it to the Catamount 14-yard line. On the final play of the first quarter, Ware scored his second touchdown of the game, this one on a four-yard run to make the score 14-0.
 
On the first drive of the second quarter, WCU’s Richard McCollum kicked a 25-yard field goal to cut the Samford lead to 14-3 with 11:24 to go in the second period. Samford answered on its next drive when Welch hit Washington for a 33-yard touchdown pass to push the Bulldogs’ lead to 21-3 with 10:29 left in the second period.
 
Western Carolina scored its first touchdown of the game on the final drive of the second quarter. Wells hit Raphael Williams for a 14-yard score to cut the Samford lead to 21-10 with 27 seconds to go before halftime.
 
Early in the third quarter, Western Carolina’s Kareem Taylor sacked Welch, forcing a fumble, recovering it and returning it for a touchdown. The score cut the Samford lead to 21-17 with 10:23 to go in the third period.
 
On Samford’s ensuing possession, WCU’s Keaton picked off a Welch pass and returned it 22 yards to the two-yard line. Two plays later, T.J. Jones rushed for a two-yard touchdown to give the Catamounts a 24-21 lead with 8:52 left in the third quarter. The Catamounts pushed their lead to 31-21 when Wells hit Williams for a 27-yard touchdown pass with 3:52 to go in the third quarter.
 
Samford answered with a two-yard touchdown run by Welch to cut the WCU lead to 31-28 with 1:32 left in the third quarter. Samford took the lead again when Washington scored on an eight-yard reverse to give the Bulldogs a 35-31 lead with 10:41 left in the fourth quarter.
 
Western Carolina was driving to retake the lead, but an acrobatic interception by Edmonds in the end zone ended the threat. Samford drove 80 yards and Ware scored his third touchdown of the day on a four-yard run to push Samford’s lead to 42-31 with 6:27 to go.
 
Western Carolina’s Wells hit Calvin Jones for a 52-yard touchdown pass with 4:32 left in the game, but the two-point conversion was no good, keeping Samford’s lead at 42-37. The Samford defense was able to keep WCU from scoring the rest of the way, preserving the 42-37 victory.
 
Samford will return home to take on the ETSU Bucs on Saturday, Sept. 25. The game is set for a 2 p.m. start from Seibert Stadium.


 
For the latest news and information on Samford football, visit the official website for Samford Athletics at SamfordSports.com. Fans can also follow the Bulldogs on social media at /SamfordFootball (Facebook), @SamfordFootball (Instagram) and @SamfordFootball (Twitter). 
 

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