BIRMINGHAM, Ala. –
On the day the field at Seibert Stadium was officially dedicated as Bobby Bowden Field, the Bulldog football team dropped a 55-48 overtime thriller to 15th-ranked ETSU Saturday afternoon at Bobby Bowden Field at Seibert Stadium.
At halftime of the game, members of the Bowden family were honored at midfield with a ceremony officially renaming the field Bobby Bowden Field. Samford President Dr. Beck A. Taylor and Athletics Director Martin Newton were on hand for the ceremony.
In the game, Samford quarterback Liam Welch set Samford and Southern Conference records for passing yards (582) and total offense (655). He also set school records for completions (56) and attempts (73). Montrell Washington caught 10 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns, while Chandler Smith had 11 catches for 124 yards for the Bulldogs. Welch led the running game as well, rushing 10 times for 73 yards. Jay Stanton rushed 21 times for 71 yards and two touchdowns.
For the Samford defense, Trimarcus Cheeks and Noah Martin had seven tackles each. Armond Lloyd had a forced fumble, and Nick Jackson had a fumble recovery for the Bulldogs.
For ETSU, Tyler Riddell completed 21-of-35 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns. Quay Holmes rushed 24 times for 168 yards and two touchdowns for the Bucs.
“To their credit, they have a good team and they played very well,” Samford head coach Chris Hatcher said. “They outplayed us down the stretch. I thought, at times, we played really well, but we made too many costly turnovers on offense, we gave up some big plays on defense, and the two long special teams returns are unacceptable. When you play good teams, you can’t afford to do that.”
The lead changed hands four times in the fourth quarter of the contest. Entering the quarter, Samford held a slim 26-24 lead. The Bulldogs stretched their lead to 33-24 with a two-yard touchdown run by Stanton with 13:51 to go. Riddell completed a two-yard touchdown pass to Jawan Martin with 11:43 to go, and a 65-yard touchdown to Isaiah Wilson to give the Bucs a 38-33 lead at the 6:27 mark.
Welch hit Washington for a five-yard touchdown pass, and Welch scored the two-point conversion to give Samford a 41-38 lead with 4:18 left. ETSU’s Riddell scored on five-yard run to give the Bucs a 45-41 lead with 1:59 to go. Welch hit Washington for a 19-yard touchdown to give Samford a 48-45 lead with 56 seconds left in the contest. ETSU’s Tyler Keltner then kicked a 27-yard field goal as time expired to knot the score at 48-48 and send the game to overtime.
In ETSU’s overtime possession, Holmes scored on a 13-yard run. On Samford’s possession, the Bulldogs faced a 4th-and-11 at the ETSU 15-yard line, but the Bulldogs were unable to convert, ending the game in a 55-48 loss.
Both teams’ initial offensive drives ended in fumbles. On ETSU’s second drive of the game, the Bucs’ Jacob Saylors scored on a 12-yard run to give ETSU a 7-0 lead with 10:06 to go in the first quarter. On Samford’s next drive, the Bulldogs drove to the ETSU five-yard-line, but ETSU’s Tyree Robinson intercepted a Welch pass and returned it all the way to the Samford two-yard-line. Two plays later, Holmes scored on a one yard run to make the score 14-0 with 6:49 to go in the opening period.
With 3:26 left in the first quarter, Samford’s Zach Williams kicked a 31-yard field goal to cut the ETSU lead to 14-3. ETSU’s Keltner kicked a 24-yard field goal to make the score 17-3 with 6:25 left in the second quarter. Williams booted a 32-yard field goal to cut the lead to 17-6 at the 2:58 mark in the second quarter. Welch hit Washington for a six-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds left in the second quarter to make the score 17-13 heading into the locker room at halftime.
On the opening drive of the third quarter, ETSU’s Riddell hit Will Huzzie for a 41-yard touchdown pass to push the Bucs’ lead to 24-13 with 10:53 left in the third period. Samford’s Stanton rushed for a six-yard touchdown, but the two-point try was no good, making the score 24-19 with 9:14 left in the third quarter. Welch hit Jai’Rus Creamer for a 26-yard touchdown pass to give Samford a 26-24 lead with 5:25 remaining in the third period, setting the stage for the exciting final period and overtime.
With the loss, Samford falls to 2-2 overall and 1-1 in SoCon play. ETSU improves to 4-0 overall and 1-0 in league action.
Samford will go back on the road to play at Mercer next Saturday, Oct. 2. The game is set for a 5 p.m. (CT) start from Macon, Ga.
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).