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  • Strong second half propels Samford past Georgia Southern

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. Back-to-back short series that ended with Andy Summerlin touchdown strikes to Karel Hamilton and Kelsey Pope pushed Samford to a 44-34 win at Seibert Stadium Saturday afternoon. Samford quarterback Andy Summlerlin passed for three touchdowns and a school record 495 yards in the win and running back Fabian Truss ran for two scores to help the Bulldogs' effort. Senior Jerick McKinnon led Georgia Southern with 181 yards rushing and moved into fifth place on the Eagles' career list, currently with 3,445 yards.

    The two teams battled in what looked like it might be a defensive affair with Samford taking a 3-0 lead off a Warren Handrahan 19-yard field goal with 2:59 left in the first quarter. The Bulldogs ended the quarter up 10-0 as Summerlin threw a 74-yard touchdown pass to Gavin Sinclair to complete a three-play drive.

    The Eagles responded in the second quarter with three straight touchdown drives and holding the Bulldogs scoreless in the period. Redshirt freshman Kevin Ellison and junior running back Tray Butler had back-to-back pass plays for touchdowns, the first for 24-yards and the second for 58 yards. The first marked Ellison's first career touchdown pass and the second was a career long pass for Ellison and career-long reception for Butler.

    Senior running back William Banks finished the scoring for the Eagles in the first half with a 15-yard rush up the middle to give Georgia Southern a 21-10 lead. McKinnon sparked the series with a 44-yard scamper to put the Eagles at the Samford 15. Banks drove up the middle and continued until he found the endzone.

    Samford began chipping away at the Eagle's lead. Georgia Southern escaped with 6:59 left in the third, holding the Bulldogs to just a field goal after moving 93 yards downfield. An Eagle fumble on its first play of the ensuing drive put the ball back in the Bulldogs' hands at the Georgia Southern 24. Samford needed only three plays, using a pass to Fabian Truss and then handing off to Truss for the nine-yard touchdown, to pull within two points just five seconds after its previous score.

    The Bulldogs defense collapsed on McKinnon, Ellison, and Banks for a three-and-out to give the ball back to Samford. Truss returned the punt to midfield and Samford took advantage of the field position. Truss capped the drive with a 19-yard run for a touchdown to put Samford back on top 25-21.

    Georgia Southern capitalized on a Samford fumble as junior linebacker Edwin Jackson snatched up a fumble after a pass to Pope was popped loose by freshman Darius Jones deep in Samford's side of the field. McKinnon rushed for 27 yards, but the Eagle's two-point conversion attempt failed. The Eagles took a tenuous 27-25 lead with early in the fourth quarter. Samford's passing game was effective as Summerlin and Hamilton connected for a 69-yard touchdown and then Summerlin hit Bledsoe for the two-point conversion for a 33-27 Samford lead. After holding the Eagles to only eight yards on their next drive, Summerlin and Pope brought the Bulldogs to the endzone again. Summerlin and Kelvin Clay added the two-point conversion pass to make the score 41-27 in favor of Samford.

    Georgia Southern made another charge, as B.J. Johnson threw a 49-yard pass to Devin Scott on a reverse pass play to put the Eagles on the Samford 20. On third and inches, McKinnon picked up the first down, then three plays later, he pushed into the end zone to give Georgia Southern 34 points with four minutes left. Samford put an end to any last Eagle comeback as Truss rushed for 62 of the Bulldogs 74 yards in their final series. Handranhan knocked in a 30-yard field goal for the final margin.

    Jackson and Lavelle Westbrooks tied for the Eagles' team lead with five total tackles. Justin Shade had the game-best with nine. Georgia Southern sacked Summerlin twice as Jackson hit him for a seven-yard loss and Josh Rowe burst through the line for the second.

    Georgia Southern Athletics will honor the members of the Armed Forces Saturday, October 12th against The Citadel. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.