Wednesday, November 5, 2014

At Samford - Is this the Year?

Western Carolina and Samford meet on the football field for the 12th time this Saturday. The Catamounts won the first meeting in 1969, played in Birmingham. However, since that first meeting, Samford has won the last 10 meetings in a row.

Since Samford joined the Southern Conference in 2008, the Bulldogs have produced a perfect 6-0 record against the Catamounts. The average score of the 11 previous meetings has been 30-16, in favor of the Bulldogs, with last season's defeat - also played in Siebert Stadium - a 62-23 loss, which was the most points scored by Samford in a game.

In Birmingham: Samford leads the series, 5-1 while in Cullowhee the Dogs have a 5-0 record.

In the first game against the Bulldogs - played as Southern Conference members - Samford traveled to Cullowhee for the that initial meeting as conference mates and spoiled Homecoming for the Cats. In that game, Samford running back Chris Evans rushed for 166 yards while quarterback Dustin Taliaferro threw for two scores within a minute and 51 second span in the third quarter, as the Bulldogs won 21-6.

The two teams next met on October 4, 2009 in Birmingham. In that game, that same Samford running back Chris Evans rushed for the only touchdown scored in the game, while Bulldog kicker Cameron Yaw booted three field goals to lead Samford to a 16-3 victory over the Catamounts. In game three as conference mates, played in Cullowhee on Oct 9, 2010, Samford running back Chris Evans again was the game difference for the Bulldogs as he rushed for 131 yards and three touchdowns in the 38-7 Samford victory.

In 2011 in Birmingham - with Evans now out of the picture - the Bulldogs ran to a 52-24 win over the Catamounts.  Then in 2012, in Cullowhee, the Cats let a fourth quarter lead slip away as the Cats lost their best chance to date, to pick up that second win in the series. Third quarter touchdown passes from WCU quarterback Eddie Sullivan to tight end Conner Orr from 14 yards out and wide receiver Jacoby Mitchell of eight yards put the Cats up to a 21-10 lead entering the forth quarter. However, the defensive unit could not hold and Samford got a 20-yard TD pass from Andy Summerlin to Riley Hawkins and Fabian Truss tallied his second rushing score of the afternoon, converting on great starting field position, to provide the final 25-21 victory for the Dogs.

Traveling to Samford in 2013, the Cats had hopes that this would be the year for that win, after such a close loss in Cullowhee the previous season. In a huge surprise for the Catamounts, much like last week's game against Chattanooga, the Bulldogs dominated the Cats, as Samford quarterback Andy Summerlin threw for 327 yards and four touchdowns in the 62-23 blowout by the Bulldogs.

This Saturday, the Cats make that same trip back to Samford for the second straight year, and I'm confident the coaching staff has constantly reminded the Cats of last season's embarrassment at the hands of the Bulldogs.

That, along with last week's shutout should be sufficient motivation for the Cats to come out with their heads on straight and ready to play - and realizing without an all out effort - they could be embarrassed again.

I'm hoping that's all the motivation they need, and that this is the year !

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