Samford Rally Edges The Citadel, 19-14
Charleston, S.C.— A fourth quarter touchdown by Dustin Taliaferro in the waning moments of the game proved to be the difference as Samford captured the 19-14 victory over The Citadel in front of 13,591 fans at Johnson Hagood Stadium for Homecoming.
From their own 20, Samford put together a 15-play, 80-yard drive, highlighted by 38 rushing yards by Jeremiaha Gates, to move to The Citadel three-yard line. With six seconds remaining on the clock, Taliaferro carried the ball to the left side of the endzone for the decisive 19-14 Samford victory.
After both teams went scoreless in their opening possessions, The Citadel took advantage of a 54-yard punt by Cass Couey to pin Samford at their own 31-yard line. Two plays into the drive a fumble recovery by The Citadel's Chris Billingslea gave the Cadets the ball at the 38-yard line. The Citadel sustained an eight-play drive that took 3:54 off the clock, capped off by Dupree one-yard dive into the endzone for the early 7-0 lead.
The Citadel held Samford to three-and-out on the following possession, forcing a punt by Michael O'Neal, which placed the Dogs at the Samford 46-yard line. Facing a third and one situation, Citadel running back VanDyke Jones exploded for a 15-yard gain, putting The Citadel just outside redzone territory. Three plays later, following a 16-yard gain by Jones, Dupree scored his second touchdown on a four-yard run over center to move the score to 14-0.
Samford began their fourth series of the game with 24 seconds remaining in the opening half. The visiting Bulldogs sustained a 17-play drive behind five double-digit yardage gains, including a pair of 11-yard pickups by Fabian Truss, which moved them to the four-yard line. The Cadets defense flushed Taliaferro out of the pocket on two separate occasions, allowing only a Cameron Yaw 22-yard field goal.
The Citadel moved the ball 45 yards on 10 plays in the opening possession of the second quarter. Highlighted by a five-yard gain from Dupree, which moved the ball into visitor territory, the Cadets drive culminated on an unsuccessful fourth down conversion at the Samford 19-yard line.
Taliaferro found Kelsey Pope for an 18-yard gain to open the drive, moving the visiting Bulldogs to their own 37-yard line. Samford then returned to the ground attack with a 17-yard gain by Truss that moved the ball to The Citadel 46. Six plays later, Taliaferro completed an 18-yard pass to Chris Cephus for the touchdown strike. After a successful PAT by Yaw, The Citadel led 14-10 heading into the intermission.
In similar fashion to the first half, both teams went scoreless in their opening drives of the second half. The Citadel began its second possession at their own 20-yard line, capitalizing on 29 yards from Robinson to eventually reach the Samford 25. The Citadel, facing a fourth-and-six, turned to Ryan Sellars for a 42-yard field goal attempt that was blocked by Samford's Corey White.
Samford turned the momentum of the blocked field goal into an offensive success, driving the ball 43 yards in 11 plays to The Citadel 27. Highlighted by a pair of Taliaferro passes to Gates and Riley Hawkins, for gains of 11 and nine yards respectively, Yaw converted a 44-yard field goal to trim the lead to 14-13 at the 1:08 mark of the third quarter.
Starting a drive in the waning stages of the third quarter, The Citadel moved from its own 20-yard line to the Samford, 10 due in large part to freshman Aaron Miller. Miller found Greg Adams for an 11-yard gain on the third play of the drive and followed that with a 39-yard gain that moved the Cadets to the Samford 27. Seven plays later, with the Dogs lined up for a 27-yard field goal attempt, Samford's Alvin Hines II broke through past the front line to record a block.
On the ensuing Citadel possession, the Dogs again turned to their special teams following a three and out, when Cass Couey booted a 61-yard punt to the Samford 20. Taliaferro was sacked for a loss of four yards by Rod Harland, who forced a fumble that was recovered by Billingslea at the 13-yard line.
Miller again attempted to drive The Citadel to a score, however three plays into the drive fumbled the ball which was recovered by Samford's Darion Sutton.
The Sutton fumble recovery put Samford at their own 20-yard line with 4:12 remaining in the contest. That drive led to the decisive Taliaferro touchdown.
Meanwhile, Samford countered with 353 yards of total offense, amassing 240 yards through the air. The tandem of Taliaferro (34-of-45, 240 yards) and Pope (17 rec., 113 yards) proved to be the difference. On defense, Justin Shade finished with 11 tackles and forced one fumble.
The Citadel now stands at 4-6 on the season, including a mark of 2-6 against Southern Conference competition. Samford moves to 6-4, 4-4.
The Citadel 2011 season draws to a close next weekend when the Dogs head to Columbia, S.C., for a meeting with (13) South Carolina. Game time is set for noon at Williams-Brice Stadium. For more information on Bulldog Football, visit the official website of The Citadel Athletics at www.CitadelSports.com or follow the Dogs on Facebook and Twitter at facebook.com/citadelsports and twitter.com/citadelfootball.