Samford uses big 2nd half to beat Georgia State 31-21 in season - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Samford uses big 2nd half to beat Georgia State 31-21 in season opener

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Senior running back Fabian Truss returned three kickoffs for 149 yards, including a 100-yard return for the touchdown on the opening kickoff of the game. (Samford Athletics Photo) Senior running back Fabian Truss returned three kickoffs for 149 yards, including a 100-yard return for the touchdown on the opening kickoff of the game. (Samford Athletics Photo)

ATLANTA, Ga. -- The Samford football team outscored Georgia State, 24-7 in the second half on its way to a 31-21 season-opening win Friday night in the Georgia Dome.

The win was the first win against a Division I-FBS (formerly I-A) opponent in the modern history of the program.

"All wins are big," Samford Assistant Head Coach Bill D'Ottavio said. "You can't overestimate a win, and going on the road for the opener, this is a great win for us. And I think this is a good football team we played. I know they are new and up and coming, but they have a lot of good football players."

D'Ottavio filled in for Head Coach Pat Sullivan, who is recovering from back surgery.

Samford scored touchdowns in all three phases of the game, scoring on a kick return, interception and two offensive touchdowns.

'This was a good victory because it took every phase of our football team to win this game," D'Ottavio said.

Samford trailed, 14-7 at halftime, but came back with an impressive second half to earn the victory.

"I think our kids executed better," D'Ottavio said of the second half. "We made some adjustments like you always do, and the kids handled the adjustments. The biggest thing is the kids handled adversity."

Senior running back and kick returner Fabian Truss had a big day in the win. Truss returned three kickoffs for 149 yards, including a 100-yard return for the touchdown on the opening kickoff of the game. Truss returned two punts for 53 yards, and he rushed 26 times for 78 yards and a touchdown.

Senior quarterback Andy Summerlin completed 19-of-31 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown in the win. Emmanuel Obajimi caught four passes for 37 yards. Karel Hamilton had two catches for 48 yards and a touchdown. On special teams, Warren Handrahan made a career-long 48-yard field goal to help put the game away in the fourth quarter.

Defensively for Samford, Bobby Wilson had 10 tackles and an interception. Jaquiski Tartt had an interception he returned 33 yards for a touchdown, to go along with his five tackles.

For Georgia State, Ronnie Bell completed 28-of-51 passes for 391 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Albert Wilson caught eight passes for 167 yards and a touchdown.

Truss put Samford on the scoreboard right away, returning the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. The return marked the first time a Samford player has returned a kickoff for a touchdown since Truss' 97-yard return at Gardner-Webb last season. Handrahan added the extra point to give Samford a 7-0 lead with 14:43 to go in the first quarter.

Georgia State came back to tie the score midway through the first quarter. Bell hit Kelton Hill for a 21-yard touchdown, and Will Lutz kicked the extra point to make the score 7-7 with 7:17 left in the opening period.

The Panthers took the lead on their first drive of the second quarter. Bell hit Hill for a 17-yard score with 12:48 to go before halftime. Lutz' PAT gave GSU a 14-7 lead.

The teams went to halftime with GSU leading, 14-7.

The Bulldogs tied the score when Tartt returned an interception 33 yards for a touchdown. Handrahan's extra point made the score 14-14 with 4:44 left in the third quarter.

Samford took the lead for good on its first drive of the fourth quarter. Truss scored on a two-yard run with 14:05 left in the final period. Handrahan added the PAT to give Samford a 21-14 lead.

The Bulldogs added another touchdown when Summerlin hit Hamilton for a 31-yard touchdown with 11:21 to go. Handrahan's extra point made the score 28-14. Handrahan then kicked a 48-yard field goal with 4:36 left to push Samford's lead to 31-14.

Georgia State added one final score late in the fourth quarter. Bell hit Wilson for a 40-yard touchdown with 2:45 left in the contest. Lutz added the PAT to make the final score 31-21.

As a team, Samford finished with 298 yards of total offense, while Georgia State tallied 463 total yards. The Bulldogs rolled up an impressive 385 yards on six kick returns. The Bulldogs held the ball for 29:02 of the game, while GSU had the ball for 30:58.

Samford will return to action on Sept. 7, when the Bulldogs take on Arkansas in Little Rock, Ark. The game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start from War Memorial Stadium.

Source/Photo Credit:  www.samfordsports.com

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