It was shortly after Brandon Rainey's 60-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that money began to rain down from the upper reaches of Johnson Hagood Stadium.

Somebody up there was happy with the Bulldogs.

Down by 21 points in the first half, The Citadel roared from behind to take a dramatic 42-27 homecoming victory over Samford before a season-best crowd of 11,145 fans. It was The Citadel's first win at home since Oct. 28, 2017.

"We want Bama!" delirious cadets chanted in the final minutes, looking ahead to next week's game at Alabama, the No. 1 team in the College Football Playoff rankings.

But before pondering the Crimson Tide, Citadel fans should savor the last two weeks, when their team has outscored Samford and Western Carolina by 63-3 in the second half of come-from-behind victories.

"It's brotherhood," said freshman cornerback Joshua Bowers, who broke up three fourth-down passes by Samford star Devlin Hodges. "It really comes down to us being together, linking as brothers and saying, we've taken all the punches and now we're gonna punch them in the face."

Rainey, the sophomore making his second start at QB, ran for 217 yards and a TD, the second-best rushing total ever by a Citadel quarterback. He also hit 5 of 7 passes for 88 yards and a TD, and has rushed for 394 yards in his first two games at QB.

Fullback Lorenzo Ward, suspended for last week's win at WCU, added 88 yards and four TDs, including clinching scores of 43 and 4 yards in the fourth quarter. The Citadel (4-5, 4-4 Southern Conference) ran for 344 yards, 285 of them in the second half.

Samford (5-5, 4-3) was knocked from the SoCon title chase despite 404 passing yards and two TDs from Hodges, the SoCon's career passing and total offense leader. He finishes his career 1-3 against The Citadel.

"I told our guys, they've taught me a lot," said Citadel coach Brent Thompson. "Have patience, and do what you do and play our kind of football and we can win some games."

What went right

The right stuff all happened in the second half, when Rainey ran for 207 of his 217 yards. The former fullback shows a willingness to cut up field decisively on the option, and is tough to bring down once he does.

"It's not a whole lot of difference with Brandon in there, maybe breaking a few more tackles," Thompson said. "I think we are just coming together as an offensive unit."

Rainey, who had to attempt only once pass against Western Carolina, connected on a 12-yard TD to Curt Nixon and had throws of 31 yards to Ryan McCarthy and 28 yards to Raleigh Webb.

Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Blake Harrell made enough adjustments to shut down Hodges in the second half, holding Samford to just a field goal after halftime. The Citadel sacked Hodges five times (twice by Shawn McCord) and stopped Samford on fourth down on its last three possessions.

"It's just believing and listening to what coach says," said safety Aron Spann III, who had eight tackles and forced a fumble. "We knew what they were going to do, we just didn't execute in the first half. We locked in and focused more in the second half, and I credit that to the leaders and seniors on this team."

What went wrong

The wrong stuff was limited to the first half. The Citadel won the toss and deferred, allowing Samford to strike quickly for a Hodges TD pass. That set the tone for a half in which Hodges hit 24 of 39 passes for 232 yard and two TDs, good for a 24-7 lead at the break.

Meanwhile, The Citadel averaged 2.6 rushing yards in the first half, testing the middle of Samford's huge defensive line to no avail.

"It's always trying to figure out what the opposing team's game plan is," Thompson said. "Especially for our offense, we've got to figure out what they've been working on all week long. And on defense, we've got to figure out their go-to plays. Once you start stopping those, you get into the minds of the coordinators."

Turning point

Rainey, who has two of the top five rushing performances in Citadel history after two games at QB, popped free for a 43-yard run early in the second half. That set up Ward's 5-yard score to cut Samford's lead to 24-14, and seemed to loosen up the home team.

McCord's strip-sack of Hodges, and fumble recovery at the Samford 10, led to Ward's 1-yard TD for a 27-21 deficit, and Rainey's 60-yard TD romp early in the fourth quarter put The Citadel ahead to stay at 28-27.

Looking ahead

The Citadel makes its trip next week to Tuscaloosa to earn a $500,000 guarantee and a likely whipping from Alabama, but at least the Bulldogs will take two straight victories with them.

"At least we're excited going in," said Thompson. "We'll go out there and give it our best."

In the SoCon, Wofford (6-2) and Furman (5-2) still have a shot at claiming a share of the SoCon title with ETSU (6-1). ETSU plays host to Samford next week, while Furman is at Mercer.

Reach Jeff Hartsell at 843-937-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC