The Samford Bulldogs earned the first victory of the season after the 55-27 thrashing of the Western Carolina Catamounts on Saturday afternoon at Seibert Stadium.
With the win, Samford improves to 1-1 overall (1-1 SoCon). The Catamounts fall to 0-5 overall and 0-2 in SoCon play.
Samford senior quarterback Liam Welch completed 26-of-36 passes for a career-high 311 yards and two touchdowns. He added 83 yards on the ground with three rushing touchdowns.
Sophomore running back Jay Stanton had 23 carries for 135 yards and a touchdown. A.J. Toney led all receivers with nine catches for 77 yards and a touchdown.
On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Nathan East led the team in tackles with eight. Defensive backs Coutrell Plair and Chris Edmonds each had an interception for the Bulldogs.
Wide receiver Ty King returned four kickoffs on special teams for an average of 31.25 yards per return.
Catamounts quarterback Ryan Glover completed 25-of-43 passes for 306 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in the loss. Calvin Jones and Clayton Bardall each had touchdown receptions. Ty Harris led the Catamount defense with 10 tackles, eight of which were solo.
Western Carolina opened the game with a two-yard touchdown pass to give the Catamounts a 7-0 lead with 12:33 left in the first quarter. Samford tied the score at seven when Welch scored on a 24-yard run with 10:32 left in the opening quarter.
On the Catamounts’ ensuing possession, the Samford defense came up with a stop on fourth down at the Samford 22-yard line.
On the ensuing possession, Samford marched back down the field and Stanton scored on a four-yard run to give the Bulldogs a 14-7 lead with 5:50 to go in the first.
The Bulldogs built on their lead when Welch connected with wide receiver Kendall Watson for a 22-yard touchdown to make the score 21-7 with 11:52 left in the second quarter.
Western Carolina kicker Richard McCollum drilled a 44-yard field goal to cut the lead to 21-10 with 8:17 to go in the second.
The Catamounts struck again when Glover hit Bardall on a flea-flicker for a 34-yard touchdown to bring the score within four points with 5:52 left in the second quarter.
McCollum booted a 45-yard field goal at the conclusion of the second quarter to cut Samford’s lead to 21-20.
On the first drive of the third quarter, Samford’s Dakota Chapman found the endzone on a two-yard run to make the score 28-20 with 12:30 left in the quarter.
In the middle of the third quarter, Welch dashed into the endzone for another Samford score, but the extra point was no good, giving the Bulldogs a 34-20 advantage.
Welch then connected with Toney for a 31-yard touchdown pass to extend the Samford lead to 41-20 with 7:25 left in the third quarter.
Western’s Donnavan Spencer responded with a 24-yard run to cut the lead to 41-27 with 32 seconds left in the third.
Welch put the Bulldogs in front 48-27 after another touchdown rush with 13:07 left in the fourth quarter. Samford went on to add one more score after Ty Boles scored his first collegiate touchdown on a 57-yard run with 2:18 left in the contest.
Samford will return to action at Furman Saturday, March 6. The game is set to kickoff at 12 p.m. CST from Greenville, South Carolina.
Gunnar Sadowey is the sports editor for the Crimson. He is a senior from Elkhart, IN. Gunnar is currently a journalism and mass communications major with a print concentration and a German minor.