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Catamounts Drop Homecoming Game, 35-7, to The Citadel

Elijer Martinez came away with his first career interception in the third quarter for the Catamount defense. (Photos by Mark Haskett)

Oct. 22, 2011

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Cullowhee, N.C. - The Citadel's ground attack scored five touchdowns while chewing up 435 yards on the ground as the Bulldogs handed Western Carolina a 35-7 setback on Saturday afternoon in Southern Conference action at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field.

WCU freshman Garrett Brown hauled in his first career touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter for the Catamounts to provide the final tally.

The Citadel's ball-control, triple-option offense held onto the ball for just over 37 minutes of Saturday afternoon's game giving the Bulldogs a +14 in time of possession to wear on the Catamounts' defensive unit.

"(Today's loss) was very disappointing. I thought that offensively we never got the ball going. Defensively, we couldn't slow them down or get them off the field on third down. It was a frustrating game," said WCU head football coach Dennis Wagner. "Offensively, we just couldn't put anything together. It seemed like we dropped some balls and we missed some guys on the offensive line. We had trouble on some of the twists that they ran. They got pressure on the quarterback. It just wasn't a good performance."

With its top receiver - redshirt sophomore Deja Alexander - on the sidelines and a first-quarter injury to its second-best seasonal threat, redshirt senior Josh Cockrell, the Catamount offense turned to the rookie from nearby Asheville and Erwin High in Brown. In formations both as a wide receiver and at the quarterback position, Brown accounted for 99 yards on the day including three rushes for a combined five yards and a career-best 94 receiving yards on three catches.

George Richardson returned his lone kickoff of the game 32 yards to set up the Catamounts with strong field possession where quarterback Zac Brindise found a streaking Brown up the left sideline for the 61-yard score to break-up the shutout by putting the Catamounts on the board.

Making his first start of the season, Brindise finished 9-for-21 for 175 yards and the touchdown, but was sacked four times for 34 yards and lost one of WCU's two fumbles on the day.

WCU's rushing attack struggled, finishing with a season-low 61 yards combined - a number skewed by a total of 77 yards in losses. Freshman Shaun Warren led the way with 31 yards on seven carries while Michael Vaughn and receiver Jacoby Mitchell finished with 11 and 10 yards, respectively.

A 59-yard return on the opening kickoff by Kevin Hardy set the Bulldogs up with a short field on the game's first offensive possession. Following a fumble of the first snap from scrimmage, The Citadel (3-4, 2-4 SoCon) moved the remaining 24 yards in five plays to take a lead it would never relinquish on a nine-yard option run by Rickey Anderson.

Darien Robinson capped an 81-yard drive for the Bulldogs with a 31-yard romp up the middle to give the visitors the two-score lead in the first quarter. All 11 plays of the first two scoring drives for the Bulldogs came on the ground.

The Citadel added a third touchdown early in the second quarter to extend its lead to 21, a margin it carried into the halftime locker room. VanDyke Jones punched it in the end zone from seven yards out.

One of eight Bulldogs to record rushing attempts, Robinson led The Citadel with 106 yards on 13 carries while Anderson just missed the century mark with 95 yards on six attempts and Jones recorded 58 yards.

In the second half, The Citadel forced the Catamounts to punt after just one first down out of the locker room and was poised to add to its lead following a 57-yard run by Anderson deep in to WCU territory. However, while looking to catch the Catamounts napping on a pass route, Miller was intercepted by Elijer Martinez, who undercut the route and recorded his first career INT.

Western Carolina (1-6, 0-5 SoCon) stemmed the tied for the moment after the sudden change of possession as Brindise went up-top for Brown for a 17-yard completion on the first play after the turnover. Brindise added a 10-yard scamper and a 15-yard pass to Michael Johnson out of the backfield, but the hits were too far between as the drive ultimately stalled at The Citadel 42-yard line.

Having regained momentum following the turnover - and already leading 21-0 - The Citadel added to WCU's frustration in going up by four scores early in the fourth quarter, capping a grueling 18-play drive with a one-yard plunge by quarterback Aaron Miller. The Bulldogs gained possession off the Blake Cain punt with seven minutes remaining in the third quarter and drove 81 tedious yards while grinding out nearly 10 minutes of clock time.

Christian Graham wrapped-up The Citadel's scoring with a 26-yard run through a tired WCU defense inside the final two minutes of the game.

Defensively for the Catamounts, redshirt freshman Ace Clark recorded a career-high 11 tackles including six solo stops while junior Rock Williams and senior Brandon Vaught each tallied nine stops. Junior Andre Shishkin finished with six stops including two tackles for loss and WCU's lone sack on the run-oriented Bulldogs.

Western Carolina travels to Birmingham, Ala., to face the Samford Bulldogs - which had their three-game winning streak snapped with a 35-17 road loss at Appalachian State - with kickoff set for 2:00 pm CT / 3:00 pm ET.