Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina held its final scrimmage of preseason camp on Saturday afternoon on the turf at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field. The Catamounts worked through over 80 plays in under two hours in what fifth-year head coach Mark Speir called a "balanced day."
WCU's offense scored seven touchdowns -- three rushing and four through the air -- while adding two Logan Howard field goals including a 52-yard boot. The defensive unit posted nine stops with three interceptions -- two that were returned for touchdowns.
"Overall, I thought it was a really good day and a good way to end camp," said Speir. "I thought our guys flew around today. I was really excited about the effort and the tempo that we're playing with."
He added, "I thought our offense was very efficient, especially our first team unit. Our quarterbacks are really throwing the ball well and the receivers are going up and getting it. The defense was kind of up-and-down today; it was the first time that we've given up some big plays that we hadn't given up in camp."
Three quarterbacks saw action on Saturday with two -- redshirt freshman Tyrie Adams and junior Wes Holcombe -- splitting the bulk of the reps with both the first and second teams. Adams was impressive, completing 9-of-15 passes for 239 yards and three scoring strikes. Holcombe completed five passes for 43 yards, but was picked off three times by the WCU defense. Freshman Nolan Beasley had a couple of series near the end of the scrimmage, finishing 5-for-5 for 38 yards with a touchdown pass.
The trio of signal callers spread the wealth on Saturday, distributing the football to 15 different players including 10 wide receivers, four running backs, and a tight end. Senior Steffon Hill paced the squad with three receptions for 65 yards with a 46-yard touchdown catch, while classmate C.J. Goodman tallied a scrimmage-long 66-yard scoring reception. Freshman Andrew Askew caught a 12-yard scoring pass from Beasley, while Adams hit tailback Corey Holloway in stride out of the backfield for a 25-yard punishing TD catch.
On the ground, six running backs shouldered the load on Saturday with three finding pay dirt. Junior Detrez Newsome rushed seven times for just 19 yards including a nine-yard romp. Freshman Connell Young matched with seven touches for a team-best 44 yards, leaping into the end zone for a touchdown, while redshirt sophomore James Foushee also scored. Holloway rushed four times for 38 yards.
Defensively, senior linebackers Tyson Dickson and Coleman Cunningham tallied two of the team's three interceptions with Dickson returning his pick 38 yards for a touchdown. Freshman defensive back Shamon Elliott also had an interception after Tahjai Watt flushed the QB from the pocket. Elliott raced 39 for a score.
Dickson led the defensive unit with five tackles including one for loss, while defensive end Daniel Nash was credited with four stops, two for losses. Cunningham was joined by defensive linemen Fred Mooring, Ezavian Dunn, Sheldon Kinard, and Avery Worsham with three tackles each.
Two punters split reps during special teams drills with Ian Berryman averaging 58.6 yards per kick with all five boots traveling more than 50 yards. Destry Barnwell averaged 44 yards per kick including a 38-yard rugby-style punt and a 50-yard punt as well.
Western Carolina will hold a helmet-only special teams emphasis practice on Sunday to officially close its 2016 preseason camp. With classes on-campus in Cullowhee beginning Monday morning, WCU's football team now shifts its focus towards its 2016 season-opener at East Carolina.
"I thought that it's been a very productive preseason; been a very physical preseason," said Speir. "I think this has been one of our better preseasons. Really, until today, our defense hasn't given up big plays and has made our offense earn everything. I'm real proud of where our football team is, and I'm excited about the season."
Both season and single-game tickets for 2016 are on sale now through the Catamount Athletics Ticket Office, located on the first floor of the Ramsey Center, by phone at (800) 34-GOWCU, or online at CatamountSports.com. Lock-in your seat for all five home dates with Catamount Football season tickets today.
Western Carolina fans are also encouraged to purchase tickets for the Sept. 3 season-opener at East Carolina in the designated WCU section through the Catamount ticket office. Additional road game ticket information including links to WCU's game against ETSU at the iconic Bristol Motor Speedway are also available online at CatamountSports.com.
Fans can keep track of all of WCU's preseason activities through the Catamount Athletics social media outlets on Facebook (fb.com/catamountsports), Instagram (wcu_catamounts), and Twitter (@catamounts), as well as video updates on the department's YouTube channel (CatamountSports).
Connell Young -- 7 carries for 44 yards, TD
Detrez Newsome -- 7 carries for 19 yards, TD
Corey Holloway -- 4 carries, 38 yards
Donnavan Spencer -- 4 carries, 12 yards
James Foushee -- 4 carries, TD
Skyler Matheson -- 3 carries, 3 yards
Steffon Hill -- 3 catches for 65 yards, TD
Detrez Newsome -- 2 catches for 11 yards
Skyler Matheson -- 2 catches for 10 yards
C.J. Goodman -- 1 catch for 66 yards, TD
Terryon Robinson -- 1 catch for 32 yards
Corey Holloway -- 1 catch for 25 yards
Andrew Askew -- 1 catch for 12 yards, TD
Tyson Dickson -- 5 tackles, 1 TFL, INT
Daniel Nash -- 4 tackles, 2 TFLs
Jake Helms -- 4 tackles, .5 Sack
Fred Mooring -- 3 tackles, 1.5 TFL, .5 Sack
Ezavian Dunn -- 3 tackles, Sack, QBH
Coleman Cunningham -- 3 tackles, INT, PBU
Sheldon Kinard -- 3 tackles, TFL
Terrance Wilson -- 3 tackles, PBU
Avery Worsham -- 3 tackles
Tahjai Watt -- 1 tackle, 2 QBH
Shamon Elliott - INT