STATESBORO - Samford survived a sluggish start and got strong performances from Chris Evans and Dustin Taliaferro to beat Georgia Southern 27-17 Saturday.
Evans, the leading rusher in the Southern Conference, ran for 142 yards, and Taliaferro was 14 of 17 for 166 yards and two touchdowns to spark the Bulldogs who trailed 10-0 after the first quarter.
``There was no panic on the sidelines,'' Samford defensive back Kyle Morton said. ``Coach (Pat) Sullivan came over to the defense and told us to take a deep breath and keep playing hard.''
Georgia Southern (5-5, 3-4 Southern Conference) had hoped a victory over the Bulldogs (5-4, 3-3) and a win at Furman next week would propel it into the Football Championship Series playoffs.
``I think this may be the most disappointing loss I've ever had as a coach,'' Georgia Southern coach Chris Hatcher said. ``We had opportunities to put it away early and didn't take advantage of them.''
The Eagles got a 26-yard field goal from Adrian Mora less than three minutes into the game, and made it 10-0 when Antonio Henton completed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Raja Andrews with 3:42 left in the first half.
Taliaferro got the Bulldogs on the scoreboard when he connected on a 73-yard pass to Jonathan Lowery. With 44 seconds left before halftime, he hit DeMarcus Covington on a 44-yard touchdown pass.
Evans scored on a 31-yard run for a 20-10 lead with 10:46 left in the third quarter. Georgia Southern scored with two minutes left in the third quarter, but Taliaferro put it away when he ran 9 yards with 9:08 to play.
Antonio Henton passed for 202 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 69 yards for Georgia Southern. Raja Andrews caught 10 passes for 114 yards, tying the school's single game record.
Henton owns Georgia Southern records for most completions in a season (155), passing yards (1,842), touchdown passes (15), offensive plays (437) and 200-yard passing games (five).