Sept. 21, 2013
Western Carolina 30, Mars Hill 23
Opening Statement from head coach Mark Speir:
"We're excited about getting our first win of the year against a very good Mars Hill football team. They came out and played their butts off. They did a nice job especially the first half and really stuffing the box; we didn't handle the sloppy conditions early in throwing the ball. Troy (Mitchell) had a few slip. It was a ballgame that was ugly and sloppy there for a long time."
"I thought our defense played particular well in the first half. They created a turnover there early that gave us an opportunity to score a touchdown by giving our offense the ball inside the ten yard line to take a 10-0 there in the first half. Last week, we didn't play very disciplined and lost our composure in the first half, and I'm very proud the way the guys never panicked on the sideline. That's all we have been preaching this week about discipline and composure and controlling your emotions. That team could have spit the bit out real easy with all the adversity that happened to us today.
"Just proud of the composure that we had, and how we stuck together to win a ballgame. You don't take any (win) for granted; they are all good. This is just as sweet because our guys had to fight and this wasn't an easy win. Our guys had to fight our butts off. It let our players know that they can go make plays and we have to fight to the very end."
"With all the adversity, I think a lesser team would have folded. I'm just proud and think that is something that can propel into some wins in the future."
"We have a big test next week and have to continue to get better. We go down and play a very good Samford football team. We can learn a lot of lessons, good and bad from this game, so we can move the program forward."
On missing big plays in the past but getting them today:
"Last year, we really didn't have a playmaker. We didn't have that guy that can catch a five-yard hitch make people miss and take it to the house; or a guy like Karnorris and some of these other receivers. In the first half, (Mars Hill) was loading box and we had routes, but we couldn't get the ball to them. Bad throws and the weather - but they played in the same weather we did, not using that as an excuse. But they were smart about loading that box and weren't going to let us run the ball. We couldn't complete things down the field. Obviously, the second half it quit raining and Troy (Mitchell), Karnorris (Benson) and those other guys got going. Stuff that was open in the first half that we couldn't get complete we started getting completed."
"I'm proud that at the end we had to get a first down there late when they punted with two-minutes in the game. We couldn't run the clock out without getting a first down. I'm proud of Darius (Ramsey) and the offensive line up front of being able to get a first down so we could run the clock out."
On the series with Mars Hill and this game getting adding fuel:
"They've got a great running back. When I was at Appalachian, we were recruiting him. (Dimitri) Holmes their receiver, we were recruiting him. Their quarterback does a good job of throwing the ball. They've got two Division I transfers on their offensive line. They are a good football team. Obviously, we didn't take them lightly. I'm wondering if my job of not letting that The Citadel loss where we played so poorly in the first half, we didn't let that nearly cost us two ballgames. I don't think it did. I think we learned from that Citadel game. We kept our composure and we kept our discipline and we were able to go win a tough ballgame at home. That is a big game for Mars Hill. We've played two games like it this year. We are one of their big games and that is one they want to win. Hats off to their kids and their staff - they fought their butts off and had a great plan and executed it."
WCU sophomore quarterback, Troy Mitchell:
On if there was any> conversation between he and Karnorris Benson prior to the three TDs:
"I feel like KB (Benson) is a play-maker. Once you get the ball in his hands, he is going to make the plays. I feel like I had to get ball to him. I talked to coach about giving him the ball and it worked out pretty good."
On the mood on the sidelines during the game:
"Coach always talks about going out and playing our game and being poised. I felt like we had plenty of time. With our offense we can score fast. We didn't feel like we were being pressured, we just had to go do what we do during practice and when we do that things get going - the whole offense gets going. I just felt like we had to make plays and get things going and the defense would feed off of us."
On the touchdown to Benson down 21-10 with 10:57 to go in the game:
"I feel like I had to get him the ball. I couldn't over throw him or nothing like that. I had to get him the ball. He is fast enough to outrun the defense. Once we got it started, we couldn't be stopped. I have to give credit to (Benson) and credit to the offensive line. They played a big role today."
On winning the game and what that felt like:
"It feels good. Everybody feels uplifted. I feel like it is good for the program and the players because we have worked so hard for it. Now we have to keep things going and keep things up and doing things right to keep it rolling."
WCU junior WR Karnorris Benson:
On stepping up and making big plays:
"I felt like a little adversity and I told Troy (Mitchell) to find me. Coach called a play, and I had been quiet all game, but had been begging for the ball. I believe in my quarterback to get me the ball, and he got me the ball and we made the plays.
On the second touchdown reception:
"(Troy) put it out there. There was some air under it and I had to go make a play. We needed a quick score real fast."
On winning and what it felt like:
"I felt like we had invested so much with the whole summer. We let a couple games slip early on and we had to get this one. We had a little adversity hit us early on with the rain and we couldn't run or pass. But, we came out there in the second half like we have to win this by all means."