Nov. 16, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. - Furman kicker Ray Early matched an E.J. Whitmire Stadium record with six made field goals on Saturday afternoon as the Paladins spoiled Western Carolina's senior day and final home game with a 32-20 victory in Southern Conference action.
The win was the third-straight for the streaking Furman squad which moved into a tie for second-place with Samford, who knocked off league-leader Chattanooga on Saturday in overtime. The Paladins can still clinch a share of the 2013 SoCon regular season title and the league's automatic bid.
Sophomore tailback Darius Ramsey rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown to pace the Catamounts on the ground while freshman Terryon Robinson hauled in six passes for 58 yards to lead six receivers. Redshirt sophomore Karnorris Benson was held to just two catches, but extended his consecutive games streak with a TD catch to four-straight with a 55 yard pitch-and-catch in the third quarter.
Second-year quarterback Troy Mitchell started Saturday's game, but was lifted early in the second quarter after fumbling while being sacked. Redshirt junior Eddie Sullivan played the remainder of the game, completing 17-of-29 passes for 247 yards and the 55-yard strike to Benson. The Boca Raton, Fla., native also rushed for 36 yards.
Western Carolina (2-9, 1-6 SoCon) held Furman to four Ray Early field goals of varying distances - 48, 24, 40 and 39 yards - in the opening half. Then, sparked by Eddie Sullivan, the Catamounts tallied the game's first touchdown midway through the second quarter. Sullivan orchestrated a six-play, 75-yard drive that was kept alive by a spinning, 36-yard reception by Willie Police that took WCU to the one-yard line where Ramsey finished the drive with a one-yard plunge.
Early misfired on a fifth attempt at the end of the opening 20 minutes to provide the halftime score of 12-7.
Out of the halftime locker room, Furman methodically drove down the field for its first touchdown of the contest as fullback Ernie Cain capped a 10-play, 60-yard scoring drive, rushing in untouched off the left tackle with Early's PAT making it 19-7.
WCU responded with a scoring drive of its own, putting a Richard Sigmon 22-yard field goal on the board to claw back to within nine, 19-10. The drive was spurred by a career-long 40-yard rush by Ramsey on a fourth and three play that put the Catamounts back into the red zone before the Paladin defense stiffened and forced WCU to kick the field goal.
Consecutive quick scores coming 16 seconds apart lit the Whitmire Stadium scoreboard. Just as quickly as WCU pulled to within two points, 19-17, on the 55-yard strike from Sullivan to Benson, Furman's running quarterback, Richard Hayes III, broke free on the first play of the ensuing possession for a 60-yard touchdown run to push the margin back to nine, 26-17.
Hayes finished the game with a game-high 144 yards rushing and the touchdown to lead the Paladins while Hank McCloud finished with 87 on the ground. Fullback Ernie Cain scored a second Furman TD on the ground, rushing for 24 yards on four carries.
Near the end of the third quarter, Sigmon split the uprights for his second field goal of the day to again make it a one-possession game, punching it in from 29 yards out to send the teams to the fourth quarter with Furman ahead, 26-20.
With 10 minutes to play in regulation, Early kicked his fifth field goal of the day to ultimately put the game out of reach as Furman went back up by nine, 29-20.
Two Catamounts finished with double-digit tackles as Sertonuse Harris finished with 14 including one for loss, and Christon Gill tallied 12. Sophomore corner Jaleel Lorquet recorded a career-high nine tackles including 1.5 TFLs and a pair of pass breakups, with senior Courtland Carson also finishing with nine stops and freshman Bryson Jordan tallying a career-best eight stops.
Western Carolina travels to Boone, N.C., next Saturday, Nov. 23, to wrap-up its 2013 season against its archrival, Appalachian State. The "Old Mountain Jug" will be up for grabs for the 38th - and quite possibly the final - time in the 78-game mountain rivalry. Kickoff from Kidd Brewer Stadium is scheduled for 3:30 pm.