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Welch Stars in Thriller

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Liam Welch threw for a program record 570 yards and four touchdowns in Samford's one-point defeat to VMI.

Facing an undefeated, nationally-ranked VMI team, featuring the reigning All-Southern Conference quarterback and a top ten scoring defense, Samford quarterback Lian Welch starred in a Saturday showdown that was an instant college football classic. After 359 passing yards and a touchdown in a win over ranked league power Wofford, also previously in the polls, Welch promptly took his game to another level against the Keydets, throwing for a program record 570 yards and four touchdowns in the one-point defeat.

Though the loss on a final two-point conversion is an obvious disappointment for Samford, which held a multi-score lead late in the fourth quarter and scored first in overtime, the Bulldogs have shown their potential in recent weeks with a victory over defending conference champion Wofford and a near upset of VMI in a contest they controlled for almost all of regulation. Leading the way, Welch currently has as much momentum as any player in the country. 

Welch completed passes to nine different receivers on Saturday, connecting with Ty King for a record-setting 96-yard touchdown strike. Remarkably, Welch had three 100-yard receivers in King, A.J. Toney and Montrell Washington, who Welch found for three scores. In all, Samford compiled 633 yards of total offense. It was a statement performance against one of the nation's best defenses. It was a national introduction for Welch. 

Notably, Welch didn't just look like one of the best quarterbacks in the country against VMI, he, in brief flashes, looked like Devlin Hodges, the program legend and former Walter Payton Award winner who is the all-time leading passer in FCS history. Though there is still room for improvement for Welch, he is clearly in rhythm in Chris Hatcher's spread offensive scheme. As mentioned, it is Welch who now holds Samford's single-game passing mark with an astonishing 570 yards.

Saturday's showcase was a full-circle game of sorts for Welch, who threw his first career touchdown pass against VMI in 2018. A reserve signal caller playing behind Hodges then, Welch is now emerging as a top playmaker of his own.

What a game and what a performance. Welch now has a signature showing to build on moving forward.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports