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Samford gets 4 TDs from Kelsey Pope in 48-6 rout of Stillman (3446 hits)

HOMEWOOD, Alabama -- As the night wore on, Stillman College's only consistent source of noise came from the Blue Pride Marching Band. What little on-field production the Tigers could muster was quickly drowned out by Kelsey Pope's career night.
The sophomore wide receiver from Sylacaugatied a Samford single-game record with four touchdowns -- running for a pair and catching two more -- as the Bulldogs routed Stillman 48-6 Saturday night in front of 5,942 at Seibert Stadium.

Pope's 75 yards rushing and 52 yards receiving both represented career-highs.

"Kelsey, he's an unbelievable athlete," said Samford junior linebacker Darion Sutton of Columbiana. "I've always known how good he was. We played each other in high school. He's always been a great athlete."

A week after a 31-17 season-opening loss to Georgia Southern, Samford (1-1, 0-1 Southern Conference) bounced back with 473 yards of total offense while limiting Stillman to two field goals. Senior quarterback Dustin Taliaferro completed 14 of 19 passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns, while sophomore running back Fabian Truss led all rushers with 76 yards on nine carries. Seven different Bulldogs combined for 304 yards on the ground.

"I feel like we've got one of the best offensive lines in the conference," Pope said. "We just got behind them, and they just got to work."

Division II Stillman (1-1, 0-0 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) was coming off a 16-13 win over Shaw, in which the Tigers rushed for 171 yards, 130 of which came on the legs of freshman quarterback Dondre Purnell.

This time around, Stillman gained only 45 yards on 35 carries while Purnell found himself repeatedly rebuffed by a swarming Samford defense that recorded 11 tackles for a loss. Sophomore quarterback Brandon Allen subbed in for a struggling Purnell midway through the second quarter, but like his teammate, didn't accomplish much beyond throwing an interception.

"They had a couple big plays, but once we shut down their quarterback, their offense was pretty much non-existent," Sutton said.

Truss had three kickoff returns for 111 yards, and junior wide receiver Riley Hawkins returned two punts for 82 yards, as the Bulldogs time and time again started drives in Stillman's side of the field.

"Fabian and Riley, they're two dangerous dudes," Pope said. "I'm glad to have them on our team. Fabian can take it the distance anytime, and Riley, too, on offense and special teams."

Truss got the Bulldogs on the scoreboard with a 1-yard dive on the game's opening drive. After a pair of Stillman field goals (22 and 33 yards), Pope went 29 yards on an end-around for a score and the Bulldogs tacked on 21 more points in the second quarter on Pope's 8-yard TD catch, a 22-yard interception return for a score by Corey White and a 24-yard Pope run.

"I thought it was a team effort tonight," Samford head coach Pat Sullivan said. "We played with the same enthusiasm as we did last week. What we didn't do is make as many mistakes."

Pope snagged his fourth and final touchdown of the night with 9:49 left in the third quarter on a 10-yard pass from Taliaferro. The Bulldogs limited Stillman to 54 yards of total offense in the second half.

Samford has a bye next week before traveling to Wofford for a Sat. 24 SoCon matchup, while Stillman faces Kentucky State University on Saturday.

"It's always good to get that first win, especially when you've got an off-week coming up, because you've got that good feeling in your stomach," Sullivan said. "We're going to need everything we can to get ready for the game in two weeks."

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Sunday, September 18th 2011 at 5:50AM
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