Oct. 18, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. - After three weeks on the road, the Western Carolina Catamount football returns home to the friendly confines of E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field to host the triple-option attack of the 12th-ranked Wofford Terriers Saturday afternoon on Hall of Fame Day. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 pm.
Saturday's game is the Southern Conference "Game of the Week" with a live television broadcast available online on ESPN3 (#SoConGOW, #WOFvsWCU on social media). Darren Goldwater (play-by-play) and Paul Maguire (color analyst) will have the call.
NOTE: With the game streamed live on ESPN3, there will be NO video stream through Catamount All-Access on Saturday.
The game will also be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network with an air time of 2:30 pm across all 12 stations and online at CatamountSports.com. Fans can listen to the game locally on WWCU-FM, Power 90dot5 in Cullowhee; 540 AM WRGC in Sylva; 1050 AM WFSC in Franklin; 920 AM WPTL in Canton; 1150 AM WAVO in Charlotte/Rock Hill, S.C.; 1270 AM WCGC in Belmont/Gaston County; on ESPN Radio 1310 & 970 AM in Asheville/Canton; 1600 AM WTZQ in Hendersonville; and on Country Legends 550 and 92.9 in Statesville.
At halftime of Saturday's game, the six newest inductees into the WCU Athletics Hall of Fame will be recognized. Christy Attebery Kennelly (Volleyball, 1998-2001), Al "Mutt" DeGraffenreid (Football, 1974-76; Coach, 1977-96), Frankie King (Men's Basketball, 1993-95), David L. Jones (Men's Basketball, 1957-60), George "Ronnie" Scott (Football, 1964-66) and the 11th Patron Award recipient, Mr. Alden McCracken make up the 2013 induction class, the largest group since also inducting six in 2010. The official ceremony is scheduled for 9:30 am with a reception before beginning at 8:30 am in the Blue Ridge Conference Room in the Blue Ridge Residence on-campus.
Western Carolina (1-6, 0-3 SoCon) looks to halt several slides on Saturday including a three-game seasonal skid while vying for back-to-back home victories coupled with the Sept. 21 come-from-behind victory over Mars Hill. The Catamounts have dropped seven-straight in the series with the Terriers since last handing Wofford its first shutout defeat - and only its second since 1997 - in SoCon play with a 24-0 win in Cullowhee in 2005.
In addition trying to end a 32-game winless drought against NCAA Division I teams, WCU is seeking its first victory in SoCon play since 2010 - currently tied for the second-longest conference losing skid at 25-straight games. The Catamounts will also look to halt a 21-game drought against nationally-ranked Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) foes.
"We know we've got our work cut out for us," said WCU head coach Mark Speir on playing Wofford during the SoCon Weekly Football Coaches Teleconference. "It's good to be back home. Of our first seven ball games, only two of them have been at home. So we're excited to be back at home and taking on a good Southern Conference opponent."
Wofford (4-2, 3-0 SoCon) plays its first road game in its last five games, spending four-straight weeks at home with three victories and a lone loss in nonconference play against Gardner-Webb, 3-0. The Terriers enter the weekend tied with Samford atop the SoCon standings.
"Those guys are playing real well - they always do," said Speir of the Terriers during the SoCon Weekly Football Coaches Teleconference. "They're a tremendously talented football team. Defensively, their front seven are just outstanding; they're just so sound, don't give up big plays and they play really, really hard."
On the triple-option, Speir jokingly said, "you just hate preparing for their offense because they know what they're doing."
"When you present a defense to them, they've seen it because (their coaches) have been together for so long. They know what the answer is to that defense. They're throwing the ball a lot better this year and have had some big plays in the passing game. And you know they're always going to run the ball and you've got to stop that."
Wofford ranks seventh in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 259.5 yards per game on the ground. However, leading rusher Donovan Johnson - who ranks second in the SoCon with just under 100 yards averaged on the ground this fall - is questionable at best after suffering a concussion in the early going of last weekend's win over Elon. The Terriers fell behind 24-7 at intermission against the upset-minded Phoenix, but Wofford outscored Elon 24-to-3 in the second half and held at the goal line on a fourth down play with four seconds remaining to pick up the 31-27 win.
Wofford head coach Mike Ayers - the longest tenured coach currently in the SoCon - talked about traveling to Western Carolina to face the Catamounts earlier this week on the weekly teleconference.
"They've got good athleticism on both sides of the ball. They're well coached; they're young, but you can tell that every week, they're getting better in some phase of the game," said Ayers when talking about the Catamounts. "This is the first time we've been on the road in a while; we know that it's going to be difficult because of the injuries that we've had over the past three ball games."
Last season, Wofford broke a 7-7 tie in Spartanburg with 35-straight points en route to handing the Catamounts a 49-20 loss at Gibbs Stadium. Fifteen different Terriers carried the ball in last year's game with three eclipsing the 100-yard mark as a part of a 590-yard attack. WCU's two quarterbacks - Eddie Sullivan and Troy Mitchell - combined to complete 32-of-42 passes for 335 yards with Sullivan seeing the bulk of the action, tossing for a career-best 302 yards. Mitchell and classmate Darius Ramsey both tallied rushing scores in the road loss.
This season, Mitchell currently ranks third in the SoCon with 177.3 passing yards per game, while ranking second in total offense behind Samford's Andy Summerlin with 237.8 yards per outing. His favorite targets have been redshirt sophomore Karnorris Benson, who is eighth in receptions per game (3.7) and tied for second in receiving yards per game (67.9 yds/gm) with freshman Terryon Robinson ranking eighth in receiving yards per game with an average of 46.4.
Defensively, WCU is paced by senior linebacker Courtland Carson who ranks fourth in the SoCon with a 9.9 tackles per game average while his 69 total stops rank him second in the league. Sophomore Sertonuse Harris (56 tackles, 8.0 per game) and redshirt junior Ace Clark (52 tackles, 8.7 per game) rank second and third behind Carson.