Dogs conclude season on a winning note
BIRMINGHAM, ALA. -- The Citadel turned to big plays and used a little trickery to erase some of the frustration of a disappointing football season.
None of the big plays was bigger than junior wide receiver Luke Caldwell's 55-yard completion to junior running back Rickey Anderson on a reverse pass to set up freshman quarterback Ben Dupree's 8-yard touchdown run with 3:04 left that gave The Citadel a 13-12 season-ending victory over Samford in Southern Conference action Saturday at Seibert Stadium.
The Citadel (3-8, 1-7) earned its
first conference win while ending a seven-game losing streak and a 12-game conference road losing streak. The victory, in the battle of the Bulldogs, was The Citadel's first SoCon road win since 2007 at Western Carolina.
Coach Kevin Higgins said the reverse pass was executed brilliantly with The Citadel trailing 12-7. Anderson was uncovered on the play and made a couple of nifty moves before finally being tackled at the Samford 8-yard line.
"Luke put the ball right onto Rickey, and Rickey had a nice run after it," Higgins said. "Then Ben Dupree from eight yards out did a nice job of getting into the end zone."
Dupree, a true freshman, slipped away from a would- be-tackler in the backfield and ran 8 yards off left guard to score, putting The Citadel ahead 13-12. Dupree's pass to Caldwell on the two-point conversion attempt was incomplete.
Samford (4-7, 2-6) mounted a threat after the kickoff, driving to The Citadel 30. But on 4th-and-2with 31 seconds remaining, quarterback Dustin Taliaferro's pass to Chris Cephus was knocked away by the Citadel's Demetrius Jackson to seal the win.
Higgins wasn't surprised Samford decided to gamble instead of trying a long field goal.
"We told our defense to expect them to go for it," he said. "We got our call ready, and if they were to go for a field goal, we would call a timeout and give ourselves an opportunity to get a block on them.
"There were so many big plays: Milford Scott with the big block, and Travis Ruff picking up the blocked kick. That got us momentum, and then Demetrius Jackson at the end of the game making the play on a fourth down."
The Citadel took a 7-0 lead with 1:06 remaining in the first quarter when Scott knifed through and blocked a punt, and teammate Ruff recovered it and fell into the end zone for a touchdown.
Samford outgained the Citadel 446 total yards to 203 with Taliaferro throwing for 286 yards while completing 28- of-36 passes with no interceptions. But Samford had to settle for four Cameron Yaw field goals covering 19, 21, 27 and 42 yards.
Two of Yaw's field goals came after Samford had the ball with 1st-and-goal at the 5 and another after it had the ball 1st-and-goal at the 10. Samford also turned the ball over on downs at the Citadel 5 on the opening possession of the game when senior running back Chris Evans was dropped for a 1-yard loss on a 4th-and-one play.
"The win today was really important because we all wanted the seniors to go out with a bang," Citadel senior defensive end Erik Clanton said. "We all wanted to go out on a good foot."