UWA throws scare into FCS No. 17 Samford

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Down four touchdowns at the half, West Alabama roared back to throw a scare into the 17th-ranked team in FCS, coming up just seconds short in a 49-41 loss to Samford Thursday at Seibert Stadium in an interdivisional college football game.

“There is no such thing as a moral victory. A loss is a loss,” UWA head coach Brett Gilliland said. “We gave a great FCS football three easy scores in the first half, but the good take-away is we fought to the absolute last second.

“I am proud of the way we came back,” Gilliland said, “but I am not proud of the final outcome.”

West Alabama dripped to 1-1. Samford is 2-0.

The second-half rally was sparked by Harlon Hill Trophy candidate Donta Armstrong. The senior from Bruce, Mississippi scored on a punt return, caught two a pair of TD passes and threw for another score.

West Alabama rang up 398 total yards and scored 34 points in the second half after Samford had built a 35-7 lead at the intermission.

The game featured numerous big plays, with nine of 13 touchdowns being scored from 23 yards or longer.

UWA quarterback Harry Satterwhite found Armstrong for scoring tosses of 62 and 54 yards on his way to completing 37-of-54 for 464 yards, two scores and two interceptions.

Armstrong also returned a punt 57 yards for a touchdown for the Tigers first points and connected with Barnard McGhee on a double pass for a 63-yard score.

Both of Satterwhite’s interceptions turned into pick-sixes for Samford, one for 63 yards by Omari Williams for the first TD of the game and another for 23 yards by Darius Harvey for the Bulldogs final score.

“We calmed down in the second half,” Satterwhite said. “I got more comfortable and started hitting guys that were open. They started jumping some of our receivers and leaving other guys open.”

Following Williams’ interception return, Samford got first half touchdowns on a 57-yard pass from Devlin Hodges to Andrew Harris and a 32-yard scoring toss from Hodges to Kelvin McKnight, who also caught a 2-yard TD pass as the first half wound down.

“We gave up some big plays on some miscommunication in the first half,” UWA linebacker Terry Samuel said. “We got our heads together and decided we needed to start giving our offense a chance.”

West Alabama made it a one-possession game when Lakendric Thomas scored on a 1-yard run with 2:08 to play. The extra point was no good and Samford led by the final margin.

UWA forced a Samford punt following the Thomas TD, but were forced to burn all their timeouts, getting the ball back for a final play from the Tiger 6-yard line with seven second left. Satterwhite and Armstrong connected for 27 yards to end the game.

Tight end Qua Boyd led UWA receivers with 10 receptions for 88 yards, followed by Armstrong with nine for 176 yards. McGhee also caught nine balls for 155 yards. Rashaad Lee led UWA rushers with 38 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.

Hodges completed 30-of-47 for 317 yards, three scores and an interception for Samford. McKnight caught 13 passes for 136 yards. Roland Adams ran 12 times for 53 yards.

In his first start in the Tiger secondary, Kejuan Feagan led all tacklers with 10, six solo. Ken Hibbler recorded eight stops. Darius Ellis had a sack and two tackles for loss, while Tevin Madison had his first interception as a Tiger after transferring from Texas Tech.

Williams and Ahmad Gooden led Bulldogs defenders with eight tackles each. Gooden had three sacks and three tackles for loss. The Bulldogs sacked Satterwhite four times.

West Alabama opens Gulf South Conference play Saturday, Sept. 16 at home against Mississippi College. Samford travels between the hedges to play at Georgia that same day.