Sept. 29, 2007
WCU at GSU - Post-Game Notes
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Statesboro, Ga. - Four lost fumbles, including three on three consecutive possessions in the second quarter, led to a combined 24 Georgia Southern points and overshadowed a career performance for Catamount senior Eddie Cohen as the Eagles bounced back from last week's home loss to Chattanooga to drop Western Carolina, 50-21, Saturday afternoon at Paulson Stadium.
Western's woes against GSU in Statesboro continued as the Catamounts dropped their 13th-straight to the Eagles and suffered their ninth consecutive defeat at Paulson Stadium. WCU was also relegated to its ninth-straight Southern Conference defeat.
"We got beat by two teams today - Georgia Southern beat us and we beat ourselves. (GSU) did a great job on the things you have to do to win a football game. They played hard and did the things offensively and defensively you have to do," said WCU head coach Kent Briggs. "In the first half, we had too many turnovers, too many mistakes, especially against a team like Georgia Southern. In the second half, I felt we came back and fought hard."
Cohen caught eight passes for 212 yards and accounted for all three Catamount touchdowns in the loss. His trifecta of scoring strikes all came in the second half, tying the school-record for receiving TDs in a single half. The Hilton Head, S.C., native became just the fourth WCU receiver all-time to eclipse the 200-yard receiving mark in a single-game, with his 212 yards ranking third among the four to accomplish the feat.
Cohen's performance was even more impressive as 149 yards and all three scores came in the second half as WCU was limited to a mere 9:07 (versus 20:53) in time of possession through the first two quarters.
"Eddie played with a lot of heart. He went out there and made plays and kept right on fighting until the end," said Briggs. "I am very proud of his effort and very proud of his performance. He stepped up today."
Trailing 10-0 after one quarter of play, three fumbles on three-consecutive possessions in the second quarter allowed Georgia Southern to stretch its lead by 17 points to 27-0. On the first play of the second quarter, Spitzer fumbled on a drop-back pass play which the Eagles turned into three points on a 27-yard field goal. The next time Western touched the ball, receiver Marcus Brown caught a pass for a three-yard gain before fumbling, which Georgia Southern drove down for a touchdown and a 10-point edge.
The third time Western touched the ball in the quarter senior running back Mike Malone gained three yards off a pitch to the right side, but fumbled near the end of the play with the Eagles recovering. Nine plays later, the Eagles punched it in for six from three yards out.
Inside the final minute of the first half, Western (1-4, 0-1 SoCon) took advantage of an Eagle kick out of bounds, moving the ball down the field in the hurry-up offense. Spitzer found Cohen over the middle and the Hilton Head, S.C., native drug Eagle defenders to the one-yard line but could not get in. On the ensuing play, Harper was stood up at the goal line and Western was held off the scoreboard, trailing at the break, 27-0.
Georgia Southern (3-1, 1-1 SoCon) stretched its lead to 30 by scoring on its opening possession of the second half before the Catamounts were able to put points on the board. Behind red-shirt freshman quarterback Adam Hearns, the Catamounts drove 80 yards in six plays with Hearns finding Cohen across the middle for a 52-yard scoring strike - the longest completion in Hearns' career.
However, the Eagles answered with a nine-play, 64-yard drive that only took a 1:06 off the clock to again stretch the score to 30, 37-7.
WCU managed to scratch the scoreboard two additional times inside the final 10 minutes of the fourth quarter on scoring passes from Hearns to Cohen from 48 and 13 yards out.
Hearns finished the day 10-of-26 for a career-best 213 yards and three touchdowns, while the starter, Spitzer, was 8-of-13 for 113 yards with one fumble. Hearns led all rushers with 64 yards gained, but had 38 yards in losses for a high net of 26. Western's all-purpose man, Mike Malone, was held to a season-low 131 yards in the loss.
Four Catamounts finished with double-digit tackle totals led by junior linebacker Quinton Phillips, who had 26 total tackles in his WCU career entering the game, and finished with 19.0 total tackles for the game. Joining Phillips in double-digit tackle totals were sophomore Chris Collins (12), junior Michael Shaw (12) and senior Mordy Ornguze (12) each reached double-figures. Sophomore Lee Stanley posted WCU's lone takeaway on the afternoon, recovering a fumble on GSU's final possession.
Georgia Southern's Jayson Foster completed a school-record 10-for-10 passes (record for completion percentage, minimum of 10 completions) for 147 yards through the air, adding 96 yards and a score on the ground.
Western Carolina returns home next Saturday, Oct. 6, to host the 24th-ranked Elon Phoenix at E.J. Whitmire Stadium/Bob Waters Field. Kickoff is set for 6:00 pm.