Oct. 4, 2008
Final Stats |
Cullowhee, N.C. -
Samford running back Chris Evans rushed for 166 yards on 34 carries and a touchdown and quarterback Dustin Taliaferro threw for two scores within a minute and 51 second span in the third quarter as the Bulldogs spoiled Western Carolina's Homecoming Saturday with a 21-6 win in front of 9,174 fans at E. J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field.
Junior placekicker Blake Bostic was 2-for-2 on the day, including a career-long 43 yarder in the second quarter, to provide WCU's lone scoring.
The loss - Western's fifth-straight to Samford since 1969 - extends WCU's Southern Conference losing skid to 17-straight games, one shy of tying for the second-longest such streak in conference history. It was also Samford's first conference triumph since joining the SoCon this season.
"It's a very disappointing loss today," said head coach Dennis Wagner following the game. "I blame myself; offensively, we have been in a funk since the Presbyterian game (Sept. 20). We did not run the ball effectively enough. The defense played well today - the numbers don't look like it, and there were a few third down situations where they could have gotten off the field. But we didn't do anything on offense to help them out."
He added, "We knew this was going to be a battle. We didn't play well, but we have to just put it behind us and move on."
Senior wide receiver Donald James posted a career-best 82 yards receiving on eight catches to lead WCU, while red-shirt freshman running back Quan Warley was held to 47 yards on 16 carries on the ground for the Catamounts.
Western Carolina (2-4, 0-2 SoCon) forced three turnovers on the day as the Bulldogs put the ball on the new turf four times, losing three fumbles. However, the Catamounts, who committed three giveaways of its own, were only able to turn the takeaways into three points in dropping their second-straight game.
Leading 7-0 after driving the opening kickoff 55 yards in five plays, Samford's Taliaferro was stripped by WCU sophomore Mitchell Bell to give the Catamounts possession at the SAM 34-yard line late in the first quarter. However, on the first play of the ensuing possession, red-shirt sophomore receiver Adam Hearns was hit and rolled over, fumbling the ball back to the Bulldogs.
With Samford driving in the second, the Catamount defense came up with another key stop and turnover, as receiver Riley Hawkins fumbled an apparent reverse exchange with junior Gene Singletary pouncing on the bouncing ball to shut down the Samford drive at the four-yard line.
After the change of possession, Western mounted its longest drive of the year in terms of plays, moving 67 yards in 17 plays on a drive spearheaded by two different quarterbacks. With senior starter Andy Horn under center, Western moved from its own seven-yard line out to its own 38 before red-shirt freshman Zack Jaynes came in on a third and long situation. The Canton, N.C., native zipped a first-down earning, 13-yard pass to sophomore tight end Andrew Rogers to keep the drive alive as a part of six-straight completions to move the offense to the Samford 26-yard line.
Jaynes started the game a perfect 9-for-9 before consecutive incomplete passes stalled the drive at the Samford 26. Bostic then booted his career-best field goal to put Western on the board, trailing 7-3 which is where the scoreboard stood at the half.
Jaynes finished with a career-best 162 yards on 20-of-33 through the air with one interception.
The Catamounts closed to within a point on their opening drive of the second half, utilizing a 24-yard kickoff return by freshman Levon Curtis to open the possession at their own 32-yard line. Horn, who finished with 90 yards passing on eight completions with his first INT of the season, connected on double-digit pass plays to red-shirt sophomores Marquel Pittman (13 yards) and Adam Hearns (29 yards). However, with WCU threatening the red-zone, the drive stalled and Bostic again was called upon, splitting the uprights from 35 yards out to make it, 7-6.
Samford (3-2, 1-1 SoCon) then used consecutive scores within a decisive minute and 51 second frame to put the game away. The Bulldogs turned a 38-yard Richie Fordham punt return into points as Taliaferro found Jonathan Lowery on the very next play for a 22-yard scoring strike to push the game to 14-6.
Following a three-and-out for the Catamounts that consumed just over a minute of game clock, Taliaferro connected with Hawkins from 38 yards away to provide the final tally, 21-6.
For Western, junior Adrian McLeod led the defensive attack with a career-high 14 tackles, including eight solo stops and 2.5 tackles for loss. Classmate Chris Collins finished with 11 stops in the loss, while senior Jeff Bradley was credited with three tackles, all for losses that combined for nine yards.
WCU will hit the road for its next two contests in the Palmetto State. The Catamounts visit the nationally-ranked Wofford Terriers (Oct.4) and Furman Paladins (Oct. 11).