Chattanooga, Tenn. – On the strength of a 17-yard touchdown pass from Tyrie Adams to tight end Owen Cosenke and a two-point conversion rush by Curtis Roach on a fake PAT, Western Carolina closed to within one score, 44-36, with just under six minutes remaining in the third quarter of an offensive Saturday afternoon. However, the Chattanooga Mocs pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 60-36 Southern Conference victory at Finley Stadium.
The two teams combined for 96 total points on Saturday and an eye-popping 1,086 combined yards of total offense.
Running back Connell Young rushed for a career-high 217 yards and WCU used a trio of trick plays including a 69-yard fake punt rush for a touchdown by Caleb Ferguson midway through the second quarter for the Catamounts. The Catamounts also used a pair of fake field goal runs by Curtis Roach – one that set-up WCU’s first touchdown on a one-yard Will Jones rush and another on a fake PAT for a two-point conversion – in the loss.
Ferguson finished with a career-best 83 yards on four total touches with his first career score.
Jones earned the start at quarterback, finishing 3-of-8 passing for 20 yards with an interception before giving way to Adams in the second quarter. The St. Petersburg, Fla., native who hadn’t played since the season-opener against Mercer, completed 9-of-15 passes but tossed a pair of interceptions including one in the end zone that thwarted a would-be scoring drive at the end of the first half. Adams added 61 rushing yards with a score and Donnavan Spencer plunged in from six yards out to cap the first drive of the third quarter with a rushing score.
Chattanooga had two, 100-yard rushers as freshman Ailym Ford ran for 195 yards and two touchdowns and Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks ran for 125 yards and a pair of scores to power the Mocs’ ground game. Quarterback Nick Tiano completed 11-of-17 passes for 161 yards and a score to Bryce Nunnelly who caught four passes for 100 yards.
After the Catamounts managed a one-point, 7-6, lead through the first quarter, WCU was outscored 31-to-14 in a wild second quarter as the Mocs carried a 37-21 lead into the halftime locker room as Victor Ulmo connected on the first of two field goals.
Linebacker Ty Harris led the Catamount defense with nine tackles while John Brannon recorded eight total hits including seven solo stops, recording his second interception of the year that led to WCU’s first score of the afternoon.
Western Carolina (1-3, 0-2 SoCon) returns home next Saturday, Oct. 5 in nonconference play as the Catamounts host the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs (1-3, who were idle this weekend, at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field. Kickoff of the annual Family Weekend game is scheduled for 3:30 pm.