Related Link: Preview story from the Asheville Citizen-Times
Lexington, Va. - Ranked as high as 19th in the STATS FCS media poll and 21st in the FCS coaches tabulation, Western Carolina visits VMI on Saturday afternoon in Southern Conference play. Kickoff at Foster Stadium is scheduled for 1:30 pm.
Fans can follow Saturday's game at VMI on the Catamount Sports Network with air time of the Pepsi Pregame Show at 12:30 pm ahead of the 1:30 pm kickoff. The "Voice of the Catamounts," Gary Ayers will be joined by Daniel Hooker, Jeff Bryson, and Greg McLamb on the call. Fans can listen to the CSN broadcast locally on WWCU-FM Power 90dot5 in Cullowhee; 540 AM WRGC in Sylva; 104.9 FM & 1050 AM WFSC in Franklin; WISE Sports Radio 1310 / 970 AM and 97.3 FM in Asheville/Canton; and with live streaming audio available online at CatamountSports.com. Fans can also follow through social media on Twitter using the handle, @Catamounts.
VMI's broadcast production can also be seen on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app with Wade Branner calling the play-by-play and Chip Tarkenton on color commentary.
Western Carolina (5-2, 3-1 SoCon) is seeking its sixth victory of the season while also looking for its third win away from home which would mark the most by a Catamount football team since 2002. WCU will try to keep pace in the league race behind first-place, Wofford (6-0, 4-0 SoCon) while entering the weekend tied with the red-hot Furman Paladins (4-3, 3-1 SoCon), winners of four-straight. No. 5 Wofford hosts No. 14/16 Samford (4-2, 2-1 SoCon) on Saturday while Furman hosts Mercer (4-3, 3-2 SoCon) for its Homecoming game.
The Catamounts venture to Lexington, Va., winners of 14-straight in the all-time series against VMI, which returned to the SoCon in 2014 after a 12-year stint in the Big South Conference. Despite the streak, the last two meetings have been decided by just one possession with a WCU needing a late defensive stop to secure the win.
All told, the last two Catamount wins against the Keydets have been by a combined seven points -- 24-20 in the 2015 season finale in a game marred by three Catamount turnovers in the most recent game played in Lexington and 32-29 in Cullowhee a season ago.
In 2015, a fourth quarter fumble by WCU -- its third giveaway of the game -- was converted into a go-ahead touchdown by VMI with just 3:17 remaining in regulation. Quarterback Troy Mitchell then orchestrated a 65-second scoring drive that included three Detrez Newsome rushes for a total of 29 yards and a 41-yard completion to Karnorris Benson with Newsome capping the drive with what proved to be the game-winning score. But it wasn't until the defense forced then Keydet QB Al Cobb was forced out of bounds at the end of a 68-yard drive as time expired that the game was decided.
Last season, WCU jumped out to a 14-3 lead after a pair of Keion Crossen created turnovers -- a scoop-and-score on a fumbled opening kickoff return and later Connell Young capping an 11-play drive after a Crossen interception. However, the Keydets hung around and eventually pulled ahead, 29-24, in the fourth quarter and were five minutes away from halting a 12-game winless drought in Cullowhee.
But the Catamounts again found a late drive, marching 80 yards for the game-winning score, the bulk coming on a 53-yard pitch-and-catch from Tyrie Adams to Terryon Robinson for the game winner. The defense again was called up for a game-sealing stop as defensive back Trey Morgan iced the victory with a pair of interceptions -- the first negated by a penalty before the game-ending pick.
WCU also blocked four placekicks in last year's win including two field goals and a pair of PATs.
Injuries and youth thrust into starting roles have plagued VMI (0-7, 0-4 SoCon) this season as the Keydets have dropped 13-straight games dating back to last season, but continues to present challenges to league opposition. Nationally-ranked Samford scored 20 first half points, but was limited to a pair of second half field goals in a 26-7 win in Lexington back on Oct. 7.
Kickoff is set for 1:30 pm.