Bulldogs, Redhawks seek first OVC win

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Both teams will try to avoid an 0-2 start in conference play.

Southeast Missouri State and Samford both began Ohio Valley Conference play by dropping games against two of the league favorites.

Tonight, the Redhawks (2-1) and Bulldogs (2-2) will shoot for their first conference win when they square off at 6 p.m. at Houck Stadium.

And, while neither coach will exactly come out and say it, any designs either squad has on contending for the OVC title likely hinges on avoiding a second league loss, especially this early. No team has won the championship with more than one defeat since 1962.

"We have to break the ice in the conference," Southeast coach Tony Samuel said. "Both teams are trying to get a win in the conference and get back in the hunt."

Said Samford coach Bill Gray: "All the games are big. But at the same time, it's very important not to fall two games behind the frontrunner."

The Redhawks, in their first season under Samuel, were picked last among nine teams in the OVC's preseason poll.

While Southeast might have played that part during a 38-7 loss at Jacksonville State on Sept. 16, Samuel is convinced the Redhawks are much better than they showed that day -- and he firmly believes they have enough talent to play a major role in the conference race.

"For whatever reason, we just didn't perform like we're capable down there," Samuel said. "I know what we have and I know we're a lot better than that."

Samford, the OVC's preseason No. 4 selection, was more competitive in its league opener but fell at home to defending champion Eastern Illinois 24-13 last Saturday.

"We had opportunities," Gray said. "We gave ourselves a chance, we just didn't get it done."

The Bulldogs have used two quarterbacks extensively in all four of their games, and that doesn't figure to change tonight.

Jefferson Adcock, a junior, passed for more than 2,000 yards last season while taking the majority of the snaps for the Bulldogs.

But Adcock has split time with sophomore Dante Williams so far. Adcock, who came off the bench for the first time against Eastern Illinois, wound up seeing most of the action after Williams got banged up. Adcock completed 24 of 30 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns.

"Jefferson did a good job coming off the bench after making 14 straight starts," Gray said.

Both quarterbacks are completing better than 60 percent of their passes on the season. Adcock is at 60.3 percent (44 of 73) for 419 yards, with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Williams is at 61.7 percent (37 of 60) for 363 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.

Gray said using two quarterbacks is not by design.

"The situation is kind of like a yo-yo. One is up and the other one is down," Gray said. "Last year obviously we had one guy that did it predominantly every snap. That's where we'd like to be, but we're making some mistakes. We're going to play several until we can get it going."

Samford receivers Jeff Moore and Freddy Young rank second and third in the OVC in catches with 23 and 22, respectively. Moore tied a career-high with 10 receptions against Eastern Illinois, while Young caught eight passes.

"Both quarterbacks are very good. They throw a short game and their receivers do a real good job after the catch," Samuel said. "They run a lot of misdirection, option type plays, and they're solid on defense.

"They had every opportunity to win that [Eastern Illinois] game. The thing that hurt them the most was turnovers."

Samford had four turnovers against Eastern Illinois, while the Panthers had only two. For the season, the Bulldogs have committed 10 turnovers while forcing six. Southeast ranks first nationally in turnover margin at plus three per game. The Redhawks still have not committed a turnover, while forcing nine.

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