Oct. 2, 2010
Final Stats |
Charleston, S.C. - True freshman quarterback Brandon Pechloff tossed two touchdown passes while redshirt senior Adam Hearns rushed for a third score in a specialty formation as Western Carolina led from start-to-finish in upending The Citadel Bulldogs, 24-13, Saturday afternoon at Johnson Hagood Stadium.
The win snaps WCU's 16-game Southern Conference road game losing skid, handing the Catamounts their first win in league action away from home since 2005. It was also the second-straight victory over The Citadel, coupled with last year's 14-10 home win over the `Dogs.
"I am really proud of our team, our coaches. We had a great week of practice. The coaches had a good game plan, but the kids really executed on the details of their assignments," said Wagner during post-game comments on the Catamount Sports Network. "The Citadel made some adjustments at halftime. I give them credit - they came out, changed their blocking schemes and did a few things differently on offense. It took us a whole quarter to get that situated."
He added, "We knew coming in that they were going to try and keep the ball away from us. You have got to take advantage when you get a chance to score. I think we did that. I thought our defense was opportunistic again today and made some very good plays against their run."
Western Carolina (2-3, 1-1 SoCon) turned it over on its first possession, fumbling on a run up the middle after moving 55 yards into Bulldog territory. However, the Catamount defense forced a three-and-out, only surrendering three yards to The Citadel on its opening possession to give the ball back to Pechloff and the offense.
The rookie field general moved the unit 57 yards in 10 plays, setting up Blake Bostic for his first field goal of the season. The Fred Mitchell Award candidate split the uprights from 40 yards out to give WCU the early, 3-0, advantage.
WCU forced a four-and-out on its next possession, pushing the Bulldogs back on a fourth-and-one attempt near midfield to give the ball back to the offense. Capitalizing on a pair of Bulldog penalties, Pechloff drove the team into scoring position and then delivered a scoring strike over the middle in the end zone to Marquel Pittman
from eight yards out for his lone catch of the game and a 10-0 lead.
Following a Bulldog field goal and a Blake Cain punt by WCU, the Bulldogs were poised to regain possession with a chance to tie late in the second quarter. However, the punt was muffed by The Citadel's Greg Adams with the Catamounts' Josh Cockrell pouncing on the loose football to give WCU possession at the opponent's 28 yard line.
Four plays later, Pechloff found Jacoby Mitchell for a 15 yard touchdown and a 17-3 lead which the Catamounts carried into the halftime locker room.
Pechloff finished 10-of-19 passing for 154 yards with the two TDs. He found seven different receivers with his favorite target of Mitchell with three catches for a game-high 43 yards.
With Western Carolina leading by two scores at halftime, The Citadel (2-3, 0-2 SoCon) controlled the third quarter, scoring 10-unanswered points to close to within four, 17-13. The Bulldogs ate up 11:30 off the game clock and outgained WCU, 138-to-17, in overall offensive yardage.
But the Catamount defense bent but didn't break, forcing a long field goal attempt that Bulldog back-up kicker Ryan Sellers early in the fourth quarter that sailed wide right from 47 yards out on the 10th play of the drive. Western Carolina responded by marching 70 yards in just four plays - spurred by a 33 yard rush by junior Nate Harris who slipped through containment on the right edge and scampered up the middle of the field for the big gain.
Pechloff found Mitchell along the left sideline for a 28-yard strike to set-up Hearns from the five-yard line. The Philadelphia, Pa., native and former WCU quarterback, took a direct snap from the quarterback position, stiff-armed through teammate Harris and rushed in for the score, giving the Catamounts an 11-point cushion.
As the run-oriented Bulldog offense tried to move down the field through the air, WCU senior defensive back Mitchell Bell intercepted re-inserted Bulldog starting quarterback, Matt Thompson, in the end zone to ice the win for the Catamounts.
All told, the WCU defense forced four Bulldog fumbles, taking two away, with the one interception.
In addition to the rushing score, Hearns led the Catamount defense with a career-best 12 tackles including eight solo stops and three for losses. Ricky Schwarz finished with nine tackles with half a quarterback sack while Angelo Brown tallied eight stops with one for loss and forced a Bulldog fumble.
"This was a great win for us," said junior running back Harris, who led the offense with 12 rushes for 75 yards. "We all came together and had one common goal and came here to get the job done. It was great being in the locker room after the game. Everybody was excited to get this road win."
Western Carolina returns to action next Saturday, Oct. 9 by hosting Samford at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field in Cullowhee for Homecoming. Kickoff is set for 3:00 pm.