Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina junior tailback Detrez Newsome rushed for a school-record 277 yards and two lengthy touchdowns, but it was not enough to derail the eighth-ranked Chattanooga Mocs. UTC’s Ricarde Bagley scored three touchdowns including two on the ground as the Mocs downed the upset-minded Catamounts, 38-25, on Homecoming at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field.
Against the top-ranked defensive unit in NCAA FCS football and the No. 8 team in the country, Newsome rattled off scoring rushes of 75 and a program record-long tying 95 yards. The Raeford, N.C., native product amassed a career-best 347 all-purpose yards, the second-most by an individual in Southern Conference history.
Redshirt freshman QB Tyrie Adams completed 13-of-23 passes for 117 yards and a 10-yard, fourth quarter touchdown pass to Spearman Robinson. He added a two-point conversion completion to freshman tight Aubry Payne.
Adams was only able to spread the ball to four different receivers in the loss – only one that wasn’t named “Robinson.” Adams found Spearman Robinson five times for 53 yards and usual favorite target, Terryon Robinson, on four occasions for 46 total yards. Redshirt freshman WR Jacob Robinson caught a pair of passes for 12 total yards with Newsome targeted twice out of the backfield.
Chattanooga (8-1, 6-1 SoCon) was efficient offensively with two quarterbacks doing damage in different ways. Starter Alejandro Bennifield threw for 192 yards and two touchdowns on 11-of-16 passing, while Tyler Roberson rushed for 121 yards and a score in reserve, joining Bagley as two Mocs over the century mark on the ground. Wide receiver C.J. Board finished with 107 yards and a touchdown on just two receptions for UTC.
Board put Chattanooga ahead midway through the first quarter on a 60-yard reception from Bennifield who scrambled to keep the play alive. However, 10-seconds and one play from scrimmage later, Newsome burst up the middle for what was a career-long 75-yard, game-tying touchdown rush.
The first of two Bagley touchdown rushes late in the opening quarter pushed the Mocs ahead, 14-10, before WCU was able to counter with a 10-play drive. However, the longest drive of the game on either side stalled, and Logan Howard split the uprights from 29-yards out to make it 14-10 as the first quarter ended.
UTC scored three times in the second quarter including Roberson’s 54-yard counter keeper and Bagley’s second rushing TD. The Mocs then capitalized on a 72-yard Board punt return as Chase Stehling made a touchdown-saving tackle with UTC settling for a 32-yard Henrique Ribeiro field goal to carry the 31-10 lead into halftime.
Chattanooga scored its lone second half touchdown on an eight-yard reception by Bagley early in the third quarter to take a 38-10 advantage. WCU added Newsome’s 95-yard scoring romp and Robinson’s 10-yard reception in the closing minute of the third and fourth quarters, respectively, to provide the final tally.
Junior linebacker Kendall White paced WCU with a career-high 10 tackles, while also pulling down his first career interception after dropping back into coverage. Senior LB Coleman Cunningham also finished with a career-best, tallying eight to rank second on the team. Freshman Jake Helms pounced on a second UTC turnover, recovering a second half fumble.
For the Mocs, Dale Warren and Cedric Nettles posted 13 and 12 tackles, respectively, with Warren tallying two tackles for loss including a sack. Isaiah Mack was credited with two sacks while Vantrel McMillan had three TFLs.
Western Carolina closes out the home portion of its 2016 regular season next Saturday, Nov. 5 as it hosts the VMI Keydets at Whitmire Stadium / Waters Field. In addition to honoring its two newest inductees into its Athletics Hall of Fame – Mike Biggerstaff (Football, 1966-69) and Fred Cantler (Athletic Administration, 1978-2012) – WCU will also honor the senior members of the Catamount football team, WCU Dance Team, the Catamount cheerleaders, and the “Pride of the Mountains” Marching Band. Kickoff for the home finale is scheduled for 2:00 pm.