BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Citadel went into Saturday’s game at Samford down a starting linebacker, and came out of it down two.
Sophomore Rah Muhammad left the game in the second quarter with an injured ankle and did not return. Coach Kevin Higgins did not know the extent of the injury, but it didn’t look good as Muhammad was helped off the field.
The Bulldogs already had lost top tackler Carl Robinson, another sophomore linebacker, to a knee injury. He tore an ACL in last week’s loss to Chattanooga and is out for the season.
That left only Carson Smith among The Citadel’s trio of starting sophomore linebackers.
“It makes it tough,” said Smith, who led the Bulldogs with 12 tackles Saturday and almost picked off a couple of passes. “The three of us bonded all through camp and we’ve played together as a unit. But we’ve got guys behind them, and we need them to step up. We’ll be all right.”
Sophomore Ian Thompson of Stratford High School started for Robinson and made six tackles, one for loss. With Muhammad out, Akeem Garnett and Yemi Oyegunle also played some linebacker, as did defensive end Bay Amrhein.
Needless to say, the injuries did not help in the 38-7 loss to Samford, as quarterback Andy Summerlin focused on underneath routes while hitting 23 of 32 passes for 320 yards and one TD.
“Losing Carl and Rah, we ended up with some young guys in there,” Citadel coach Kevin Higgins said. “In the first half, we hung in there, but they got to us in the third quarter.”
Though Samford students were on fall break, coach Pat Sullivan said his team was as jacked up as he’s seen it in his six years.
“I thought the enthusiasm and passion our guys played with were as good as I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” said the former Heisman-winning QB at Auburn. “They’ve taken a lot of pride in that.”
At 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the Southern Conference, Samford remains in the hunt for a league title. Samford has a huge game with visiting App State (4-2, 2-1) next week before finishing the SoCon slate with Chattanooga, Wofford and Elon.
• The Citadel was also without backup fullback Terrell Dallas. He suffered a seizure last week and fractured a bone in his foot during the incident. Higgins said Dallas is okay, but will miss the rest of the season. It’s a tough break for the senior from Fernandina Beach, Fla., who suffered a torn ACL on his first carry last season.
Sophomore Shaunn Middleton will step up as the backup fullback behind Darien Robinson, and freshman Vinny Miller also could get some work there, Higgins said.
• Receiver Domonic Jones blocked a field goal in the second quarter, his third block of the season and eighth of his career.
• Derek Douglas had The Citadel’s only sack. … Punter Cass Couey averaged 45.1 yards on seven kicks, and put four out inside the 20-yard line.