Spartanburg, S.C. - Troy Mitchell threw for 203 yards and two touchdowns and Western Carolina capitalized on five Wofford turnovers as the Catamounts held off the Terriers, 24-17, in Southern Conference action Saturday afternoon at Gibbs Stadium.
Though they didn't start playing annually on a regular basis until Wofford joined the SoCon in 1997, Saturday's victory was WCU's first against the Terriers in Spartanburg since 1981, snapping an eight-game slide.
After mounting fourth quarter rallies for the first two wins in the current three-game win streak, it was the Catamount defense which was called upon to stand tall in the final frame on Saturday.
Wofford (3-4, 1-2 SoCon) had one final possession inside the game's final five minutes, opening from their own 20-yard line. However, on a fourth-and-long play, senior Caleb Hawkins and a host of Catamount defenders swarmed Terrier ball carrier, Hunter Windham, for a seven-yard loss and sealed the victory with the fifth takeaway on a fumble recovery.
Western Carolina (4-2, 2-1 SoCon) converted three of Wofford's four, first half turnovers into points to grab a 17-0 lead at intermission. Redshirt freshman tailback Corey Holloway muscled in from two yards out to open scoring midway through the second quarter with Mitchell finding Karnorris Benson on a one-handed, 22-yard scoring strike over the middle to take a two TD lead just before intermission.
In the waning moments of the first half, Hawkins knocked the football loose from Wofford QB Evan Jacks with Tyson Dickson pouncing on the ball to give WCU the ball in scoring position at the Terrier 24-yard line. Logan Howard eventually punched through a 23-yard field goal to provide the halftime tally.
Out of the halftime locker room, the Terriers converted WCU's lone turnover -- an interception on the first play from scrimmage in the second half -- into a David Marvin field goal to snap WCU's streak of four-consecutive shutout quarters.
Just before the conclusion of the third quarter, Detrez Newsome took a swing pass from Mitchell and tip-toed the sideline for a 22-yard touchdown reception to hand the Catamounts a commanding, 24-3, lead heading into the final frame.
Wofford didn't go away, though, capping consecutive 12-play drives with scores to close to within a score, 24-17. Immediately after Jacks found Windham for a 20-yard touchdown pass to trim the margin to 14, the Terriers converted an on-side kick to keep momentum. Jacks then guided Wofford 54 yards for their final score, setting up the end-of-game drama.
Mitchell completed 21-of-27 passes on the day including the two scores. The Houston, Texas, native also led WCU on the ground with 42 yards on eight carries. Newsome was held to a season-low 97 all-purpose yards including 27 yards rushing, 26 yards receiving and 44 on kickoff returns. Benson and C.J. Goodman led the receivers with six catches apiece, finishing with 53 and 51 yards, respectively.
Defensively, linebackers Daniel Riddle and Tyson Dickson paced the squad with 13 and 10 tackles with Dickson posting a career-best four tackles for loss and recovering a fumble. Ends Tahjai Watt and Caleb Hawkins had eight and seven tackles, respectively, with Hawkins filling the stat sheet with a sack as a part of two TFLs, a forced and recovered fumble.
Wofford QB Evan Jacks threw for 74 yards and a score, adding 66 yards on the ground. Lorenzo Long paced the Terriers with 69 rushing yards
Western Carolina returns home next Saturday, Oct. 24, to host the Samford Bulldogs at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field. Kickoff of the annual Homecoming game is scheduled for 3:30 pm. WCU alum and former Catamount baseball player, country music star Matt Stillwell will perform a free concert in the field house parking lot beginning at 1:30 pm.