Aug. 18, 2007
Cullowhee, N.C. - Two weeks away from its 2007 season opener at Alabama, the Western Carolina Catamount football team took to the turf Saturday morning for its second scrimmage of preseason drills. The two-hour session encompassed nearly 95 total plays, in addition to special teams work on kickoff and kickoff return.
"We got a lot of good work done today," said WCU's sixth-year head coach Kent Briggs. "I was pleased with the solid intensity today - guys hustling both on and off the field, good attention to details. But we are still not at a level to be a champion. Overall, we had good game-like situations today and had several players step up and make good plays. We will look at the film, learn from what mistakes we did make and move forward."
Briggs added, "I felt like we made a lot of progress this week. We are not ready today to play Alabama, but we are moving along and get better each time out."
After consecutive three-and-out stops by the Catamount defense of the offensive unit to open the scrimmage, the offense broke through on its third attempt. Under the direction of sophomore quarterback Adam Hearns, the offense moved from its own 35 yard line into field goal range before the drive stalled thanks in part to a tackle for loss by junior Jeff Bradley on a second down option run. Junior kicker Jonathan Parsons delivered a 24-yard field goal to put the first points on the board.
Five possessions later, the Catamount offense tallied its first touchdown of the scrimmage. Starting from its own 45, senior quarterback Todd Spitzer marched his squad down the field before finding classmate Eddie Cohen on a 27-yard touchdown strike. Sophomore tailback Willie Harper keyed the drive with an eight-yard scamper on third and short to keep the chains moving. Spitzer finished 3-for-4 on the drive with each completion going to Cohen for 54 yards.
On its next possession, the offense capitalized on positive momentum again driving 55 yards culminating with a one-yard touchdown leap by senior tailback Mike Malone. Sophomore signal caller Richard Harp orchestrated the drive, completing 4-of-5 passes for 36 yards with both junior Donald James and red-shirt sophomore Marcus Brown making big catches.
Hearns lead all five quarterbacks by completing 11-of-14 pass attempts for 93 yards and a touchdown. Spitzer finished 6-of-10 for 71 yards with a TD and an interception, with Harb going 5-of-7 for 38 yards and freshman Zach Jaynes completing 5-of-8 for 32 yards. Rounding out the quarterbacks was junior Andy Horn who was 3-for-4 for 17 yards.
James led all receivers during full-field work with eight catches for 62 yards and a TD, while Cohen hauled in five passes for 61 yards and a score. Malone led the rushing attack with 42 yards on 11 carries and one touchdown, while Harper rushed six times for 15 yards and Joe Clark-Dear rumbled 14 yards on his lone carry of the scrimmage.
The offense converted all three red-zone opportunities into touchdowns. Following Jeff Bradley's second sack of the scrimmage, Spitzer threaded the needle on a 22-yard touchdown strike to Nick Miller for the first of his two TD receptions during red-zone work. Two plays into the second opportunity, Jaynes found Kyle Garland for a score, with Horn tossing a 25-yard pass to Miller on third down of the third and final red-zone scenario.
Highlighting the defensive, Bradley finished with a pair of sacks and a tackle for loss, with red-shirt sophomore Keanon Orr tallying a pair of TFLs and senior defensive lineman Darren Curtis recorded a TFL and blocked a PAT attempt. Freshman Craig Brooks tipped a pass that was intercepted by linebacker Dorian Battle, with junior linebacker Drew Walker also picked off a pass but had it negated by a defensive penalty on the same play.
Western completed two-a-days on Friday and will turn its attention to the start of fall classes on Monday, with the final preseason scrimmage - the annual "Meet the Cats" event - to be held Wednesday, August 22. The team will be available for autographs from 6:00 pm until 6:30 pm, with the scrimmage slated to start at 7:00 pm.