Friday, October 17, 2014

The tables have turned in familiar SoCon showdown

In 2012, the Terriers had the ultimate chance. Several teams in contention for a SoCon title fell that afternoon, and the pesky Samford Bulldogs were the only thing in between Wofford and an outright Southern Conference title.

With that being said, it looked so promising for our 'Short-Haired Dogs'. The Terriers held a confident 17-9 lead with time dwindling away in the fourth quarter. However, the Bulldogs scored on the final play of the game to bring the margin within two for the home team from Birmingham, Ala. Wofford was flagged for pass interference on Samford's initial two-point conversion attempt, a play that saw a pass from Andy Summerlin fall incomplete.  

On the ensuing try, Samford punched it in with another pass, and thus began a time of intense stress and confusion for Terrier faithful. 

ESPN was fooled; their online statistics service, GameCast, listed the game as complete, with the visiting Terriers prevailing 17-15. Most notable were the comments from Wofford/IMG Sports Network broadcasters Mark Hauser and Thom Henson, which went something along the lines of, "This says the game is over, but we're here watching it."

During the first overtime period, Kasey Redfern's missed field goal try capped the Terriers' first shot. The Bulldogs set up a seemingly routine 34-yard field goal attempt for Cameron Yaw. The collective heartbeat of Terrier Nation halted for a moment, but regained its pace with an added flair of renewed excitement when his try went wide left.

However, Samford would proceed to score on their next opportunity, and the Terriers gave up a fumble on their very first play of the second overtime period to seal the tremendous defeat at the hands of the Bulldogs.

That's the story of how Samford effectively played the role of spoiler. Now, two seasons later, those roles have seemingly reversed, as the Bulldogs now find themselves on the top tier of the SoCon, while the Terriers are left scratching and clawing their way back upward.

"We're in search of a four-quarter game where we execute the way that we're capable of executing," Coach Ayers noted to TerrierVision on Monday afternoon. "We're going to have to play great defense. [Samford] has a lot of fine offensive players."

Wofford will make the trip to take on the Bulldogs at Seibert Stadium in Birmingham, Ala., this Saturday, in a game that will mean something unique for both programs. For Samford, that is cementing their spot in this rapidly changing SoCon landscape. Wofford, on the other hand, is looking to salvage this campaign as quickly as possible.

"We've got to find a way to score some points; we've got to find a way not to give the football away, and we've got to be consistent in everything that we do."

That's a stiff, while obviously necessary, order against a tough Samford squad led by quarterback Michael Eubank, who holds a 59.2 completion percentage, leading rusher Denzel Williams, and, of course, Jaquiski Tartt, the big name on defense.

Samford is also coming off a bye week, giving them another possible advantage over the Terriers, who fell in a phyiscally- and emotionally-draining 26-14 setback at Western Carolina last weekend.

"There's a hard week of preparation that we need to accomplish, and then [we need to] go down there with the right mindset and compete for four quarters."

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