The UCA football team struggled to find its rhythm as it fell to the Samford University Bulldogs 45-16 on the road in its season opener.
“We just didn’t play very well,” UCA head coach Steve Campbell told ucasports.com. “We just got beat on both sides of the line of scrimmage, and I think we got beat at a lot of different positions. We just didn’t play anywhere close to the way we needed to play where we’d have a chance to beat a good football team. We didn’t have them ready. We need to play better. We need to have them ready to go and we weren’t.”
UCA couldn’t catch a break with referees receiving 12 penalties totaling 183 yards.
Senior quarterback Taylor Reed completed 43 passes for 312 yards.
On the Bears’ second possession, sophomore running back Dominique Thomas slipped through the middle of the scrimmage for a 29-yard run, putting the Bears on the board and scoring the first touchdown of the season. Senior kicker Jace Decker converted his kick to put the Bears up 7-0.
The Bulldogs were quick to reply and tie the game after a 55-yard touchdown pass from senior Quarterback Michael Eubank to junior wide receiver Karel Hamilton.
Coming out of the first quarter, the Bulldogs were quick to score again with a 35-yard touchdown pass. They found the end zone again only minutes later after redshirt junior running back Denzel Williams ran through 49 yards.
“We had opportunities to score more than 16,” Campbell told ucasports.com. “We just didn’t execute and didn’t do what we need to do to get into that 30 to 31 range to give ourselves a chance to win the football game.”
The Bears replied when Decker made a 29-yard field goal, closing the gap to 28-10.
UCA freshman kicker Matt Cummins scored his first career field goal, booting a kick from 50 yards, which tied for the third largest field goal in UCA history.
Coming out of the half, the home side excelled, leaving the Bears wondering what they could do to close the expanding score.
“We’re not going to be successful when we throw it 63 times,” Campbell told ucasports.com. “That’s not who we are, it’s not who we want to be, and it’s not putting ourselves in the best position.”
The Bears took some hard hits from the Bulldogs, leaving senior wide receiver Courtney Whitehead with a questionable return for UCA this season. Hildebrand and Thomas both also left the game with what appeared to be minor injuries.
The Bears are next in action on Sept. 12 as they head to Stillwater, Oklahoma, to take on the Oklahoma State University Cowboys at 6:30 p.m.
This article originally appeared in the Sept. 9, 2015 print edition of The Echo.
image via arkansasonline.com