The University of Central Arkansas Bears suffered a loss at home against the Samford University Bulldogs Sept. 10, losing 29-35.
The Bears’ defense was successful, shutting down the Bulldogs’ rushing attempts down to -25 yards. UCA out-gained Samford, with the Bulldogs claiming 257 yards to the Bears’ 577.
“I’ve never [coached]a game where you out-gain somebody by 320 yards and you don’t win,” coach Steve Campbell said during a press conference after the game.
UCA put points on the board first, kicking a 35-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Matt Cummins on their second drive.
The Samford Bulldogs answered with a touchdown two drives later. Going into the second quarter, Samford was up 7-3.
UCA kept the score the same for nearly six minutes. After a 70-yard drive, and a touchdown pass from junior quarterback Hayden Hildebrand to senior halfback Cody Dauksch was ruled incomplete, Cummins missed a 31-yard field goal attempt.
The Bears scored a touchdown one drive later from a one-yard run by freshman Carlos Blackman, putting the Bears ahead 10-7. These were the last points the Bears would score for two quarters.
After Samford redshirt freshman quarterback Devlin Hodges completed a 23-yard pass to senior wide receiver Karel Hamilton, the Bears’ defense roughed the passer, which added 15 extra yards to the play. Samford scored one play later.
On the very next drive, Bears quarterback Hildebrand threw an interception on UCA’s 28-yard line, and was run all the way back for a touchdown from Samford’s redshirt sophomore Ahmad Goodnen.
“I know it’s a team sport, but I’ll take the fall on this one,” Hildebrand said.
After halftime, the defense on both teams was successful, with Samford scoring once during the 15 minutes, putting the Bulldogs well ahead with a score of 35-10. These were the last points the Bulldogs scored for the rest of the game.
The fourth quarter was a change of pace, with the Bears putting up 19 points, and shutting out the Bulldogs’ offense completely.
“Defensively, we played extremely hard,” Campbell said. Campbell congratulated his defense multiple times, but was more upset over the turnovers the offense gave up.
“You give them 14 points, you’re not gonna beat a good football team. Especially when they scored 77 [points]a week ago,” Campbell said. The Bears were behind 35-29, with less than five seconds left in the game.
There was just enough time for Hildebrand to make one last attempt to score. Unfortunately for Hildebrand, the Bulldogs’ offense made a blitz play, and forced Hildebrand to throw the ball away, ending the Bears’ scoring streak and completing the game with a Bears loss of 35-29.
“I’m proud of the effort, the kids played hard,” Campbell said.
Wide receiver Desmond Smith didn’t think the team believed this was at least a moral victory for keeping up the fight.
“This was more about seeing the potential we have if we played like that every quarter,” Smith said.
Hildebrand was frustrated with losing such a close game.
“All respect to Samford, they’re a good team, but I don’t believe they’re better than us,” said Hildebrand. “We have to get better at cashing in when we get down [to the red zone.]We need to at least get a field goal on the board. If we cashed in every time we hit the red zone this game, we would have won this game.”
The Bears face off against the Northwestern State Demons at Estes Stadium on Sept. 17 at 6 p.m.