Nov. 12, 2011
Boone, N.C. - Western Carolina tallied a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns including a 32-yard strike to George Richardson and the first-career reception and TD for junior tight end Nate Stephenson, but the Catamounts could not overcome offensive struggles in falling, 46-14, to eighth-ranked Appalachian State in the annual rivalry game at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
ASU's Drew Stewart kicked school-record six field goals and sophomore quarterback Jamal Jackson accounted for three touchdowns including a pair of rushing scores in the final minute of the first half as the Mountaineers again retained possession of the Old Mountain Jug, the traveling trophy the two mountain-rivals have played for since 1976.
"Tonight was very disappointing," opened WCU head coach Dennis Wagner during post-game comments with the media. "Our offense put our defense in bad field position twice towards the end of the first half. They have a lot of weapons out there to try and stop and we did for a while, but we ran out of gas. Offensively, we just never got a rhythm going, the defense was just on the field too long."
Western Carolina (1-9, 0-8 SoCon) frustrated arch-rival Appalachian State by limiting the Mountaineers to field goals on four of its first five possessions. However, the Catamount offense could not get in gear, obtaining its first, first down of the game on its third drive and ninth offensive play from scrimmage.
Taking advantage of the consecutive three-and-outs by WCU, Appalachian State was able to take an early, 6-0, lead. The Mountaineers moved the ball on a short field after the first Catamount punt, but a holding penalty backed up ASU and they were forced into a 44-yard field goal from Stewart which split the uprights. Following a second punt, Appalachian moved 63-yards in 12-plays, but the Catamount defense stiffened and again forced a second Stewart field goal from 32 yards out.
On the App's first possession of the second quarter, DeAndre Pressley returned to the quarterback position for the home squad. Aided by a personal foul penalty whistled against WCU, the Mountaineers moved 68-yards in 11-plays into scoring position, but were again forced to a field goal as the Catamount defense bent but did not break. Stewart connected from 29 yards out to hand the Mountaineers the 9-0 lead with 9:37 to play before intermission.
Midway through the second quarter, Appalachian capitalized on the first turnover of the contest. ASU's Rodger Walker intercepted a Zac Brindise pass attempt intended for Garrett Brown deep down the right sideline. The Mountaineers again marched into the red-zone, but for a fourth-time in the first half had to settle for a Stewart field goal, successful from 21-yards out for the 12-0 advantage.
Brindise was later suffered a broken collar bone after being sacked from the blind side inside the final four minutes of the second quarter.
Unfortunately for the Catamounts, the potent ASU offense got rolling in the closing minutes of the opening half. The Mountaineers closed the second quarter with the first two touchdowns of the game as Jackson plowed in from two-yards away for the 19-0 edge and scrambled into the end zone from 13 yards out to convert WCU's second first half interception into points to lead at the break, 26-0.
The Mountaineers added a passing score from Jackson to Brian Quick to stretch the advantage on their first possession of the second half, with Stewart punching through his school-record fifth and then sixth field goals for a 39-0 Appalachian lead early in the final quarter.
Jackson threw for 261 yards on 22-of-34 passing. Pressley, in limited action at quarterback, was 3-for-5 and 51 yards. Quick finished with 111 yards on seven receptions, becoming ASU's all-time leading receiver during the game.
Following Richardson's fourth-quarter score, the Mountaineers moved back down the field with the Catamounts nearly coming away with a stop as Terrence McLean was hit by Brett Allen, who jarred the football loose. However, ASU's Logan Hallock pounced on the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
Stephenson's TD grab capped the scoring in the game.
Seven different Catamounts caught passes for WCU including the first-career receptions for Stephenson and sophomore Will Roseborough. Redshirt sophomore Deja Alexander paced the squad with four catches for 32 yards while Richardson caught two passes for a team-high tying 54 yards and the score.
Brindise was 4-of-10 for just 28 yards with an interception and was sacked three times prior to suffering the injury. After tossing a pick on his first offering, Pechloff finished 10-of-21 for 188 yards and the two scores.
Defensively for Western Carolina, underclassmen Christon Gill and Ace Clark both finished with a career-high 13 tackles with Gill recording eight solo stops and a tackle for loss and Clark posting seven solo hits. Junior Rock Williams tallied a dozen tackles including the squad's lone sack, forcing a fumble on the same play. Senior defensive backs Allen and Jideofo Okwudiri finished with seven tackles apiece with Okwudiri breaking up three passes.
Western Carolina returns home next Saturday to host Coastal Carolina in the final game of the 2011 season. It is the first-ever meeting on the gridiron between the Chanticleers and Catamounts. WCU will honor its 15 football seniors, as well as members of the senior class from the "Pride of the Mountains" Marching Band and trio of Catamount cheerleading seniors. Kickoff from E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field is set for 2:00 pm.