Parsons, Malone Score as Catamount Football Falls to No. 23 Georgia Saturday, 45-16

CATAMOUNTSPORTSDOTCOM Senior tailback Mike Malone scored WCU's first rushing touchdown of the season on Saturday at Georgia.
Senior tailback Mike Malone scored WCU's first rushing touchdown of the season on Saturday at Georgia.

Sept. 16, 2007

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Western Carolina at Georgia - Post Game Notes
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Cullowhee, N.C. - Junior kicker Jonathan Parsons connected on all three field goal attempts and senior tailback Mike Malone slipped in for the Catamounts' first rushing touchdown of the season as Western Carolina concluded its three-game road swing to open its schedule with a 45-16 loss to the No. 23 Georgia Bulldogs Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium.

By pushing across the late touchdown, Western (0-3) became the first team to post a second half touchdown against Georgia this season. Also, WCU's 16 points were the most the program had scored against a Southeastern Conference (SEC) foe since tallying 25 at South Carolina in 1986 (L, 45-25) and the most against a NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team since tallying seven at Louisville in 2001 (L, 31-7).

"I thought we played very hard today, especially in the first half," said WCU head coach Kent Briggs. "We did not put ourselves in the best positions in the second half as Georgia came out and did some things offensively from which we could not recover. But I could not be more proud of our football team and the effort they put forward."

Briggs added, "We did not embarrass our selves - we played with pride and played hard."

Parsons, who improved to 5-for-7 (71.4%) on field goals this season, was perfect from 29, 40 and a career-long 46 yards.

Again utilizing two quarterbacks, senior Todd Spitzer earned the starting nod and received the majority of the snaps on Saturday. The Greer, S.C., native completed 6-of-10 passing in guiding WCU on a pair of scoring drives. Adam Hearns also orchestrated two scoring drives, including a nine-play, 69-yard drive inside the final five minutes of the fourth quarter that resulted in WCU's lone TD of the game - a two-yard plunge by Malone.

Six Catamount receivers hauled in passes led by Malone with four catches, while sophomore Marquel Pittman had a team-best 41 yards on three receptions. Sophomore Willie Harper accounted for 20 of WCU's 63 yards of rushing, while Hearns added 18.

Trailing 3-0 after limiting the Bulldogs to a field goal on its first possession, Western's defense forced its first turnover of the season which led directly to the Catamounts' first score. On third and three near midfield, sophomore Gene Singletary - who was credited with an eight-yard sack on the play - broke free and blindsided Georgia QB Matthew Stafford, jarring the ball loose. Junior Jeff Bradley nearly scooped up the loose ball on the run but was unable to corral the bouncing orb. However, with the ball bounding closer to the `Dog end zone, WCU senior Meko Watson came out of the pile with the ball and great field position for the Catamounts at the Georgia 14-yard line.

Three plays later, Parsons was called upon to split the uprights from 29 yards out, knotting the game at three apiece where it stood through one quarter of play.

As the second quarter opened, Georgia drove down for a touchdown, moving 65 yards in 11 plays to surge ahead, 10-3. On the ensuing kickoff, Malone raced out of his own end zone on a season-long 46-yard return to give the Catamounts possession near midfield. WCU captured its first, first down of the game two plays later after an eight-yard pass to Nick Miller and a seven-yard spurt by Willie Harper. The Catamounts drove 31 yards in eight plays with Parsons connecting from 40 yards out to trim the deficit to four, 10-6.

That was as close as the Catamounts would get, however, as Stafford drove the `Dogs down the field on the next possession, moving 62 yards on four pass plays before a 15-yard TD strike from Stafford to Sean Bailey pushed the advantage to 11.

Just before intermission, Western (0-3) was again able to trim the deficit with a 13-play, 40-yard drive that culminated with Parsons' career-best field goal of 46 yards, pulling the Catamounts to within eight, 17-9. However, just before the half, Stafford drove the Bulldogs 65 yards in three plays for a touchdown to push the advantage to 24-9 at halftime.

In the second stanza, Georgia scored on two of its first three possessions en route to building an insurmountable 45-9 lead until the Catamounts were able to punch one in during the fourth.

Guided by Hearns, Western moved the ball 69 yards in nine plays, highlighted by a pair of wide receiver screens to Pittman - one for 12 yards and another for 22 yards - and two L.J. Davis runs for 14 yards to post its first rushing score of the season.

Defensively for Western, sophomore Chris Collins led the Catamount attack which was missing four defensive starters. The High Point, N.C., native finished with 10 total tackles, including eight solo stops, while junior Quinton Phillips finished with six tackles, five solos.

Georgia starting QB Matthew Stafford completed 14-of-20 passes for 174 yards and a pair of scoring strikes to lead the Bulldogs. Back-up signal caller, Joe Cox, completed 3-of-6 for 48 yards, adding one touchdown. Led by Knowshon Moreno with 94 yards, Georgia combined to rack up 140 yards of offense on the ground.

Dating back to last season, three of Western's last four games - all on the road - have been against SEC foes as the Catamounts faced eventual national champion, Florida, in the Swamp in late November and Alabama to open the 2007 season.

Western Carolina opens its home season next Saturday, Sept. 22 in Cullowhee as it hosts Presbyterian at E.J. Whitmire Stadium/Bob Waters Field. Kickoff for the 2007 home opener is slated for 6:00 pm.




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