Oct. 21, 2010
Wagner SocCon Teleconference (AUDIO)
Cullowhee, N.C. - For the 75th time in the storied mountain rivalry between Western Carolina and Appalachian State, the in-state archrivals will meet on the football field with bragging rights on the line. The "Diamond Anniversary" game between WCU and ASU is scheduled for this Saturday, Oct. 23 at 3:00 pm at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field.
Saturday's game will be televised by SportSouth with Tom Werme and former Cincinnati Bengals head coach, Sam Wyche, on the call. Fans can also catch the broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network on seven stations across North and South Carolina - locally on WWCU-FM, Power 90dot5 and 680 AM WRGC, and online at www.CatamountSports.com.
Prior to Saturday's game, former Western Carolina tailback - and a former fullback with the NFL's Carolina Panthers - Brad Hoover will be on hand to conduct the coin toss. Hoover was instrumental in the 1998 WCU home win over Appalachian State which ended "the Streak" of 13-straight ASU wins in the series. In `98, Hoover, who went on to play nine seasons with the Panthers, rushed a school-record 49 times for 195 yards and two touchdowns.
The football rivalry between WCU and ASU dates back to 1932, but took on a new shape in 1976. That shape came in the form of a replica moonshine jug dubbed "the Old Mountain Jug." Brainchild of the school's sports information offices, the "Jug," which is up for grabs for the 35th time in series history, is awarded to the winner of the annual gridiron grudge match.
Sports Illustrated once called the WCU-ASU series, "the best football rivalry you've never heard of." The magazine took it one step further in 2005 as Maggie Haskins made sure the rivalry got more attention nationally. With Western Carolina's players holding the Old Mountain Jug in the main photo of the piece, she wrote, "After extensive research...I compiled a list of some of the great rivalry trophies across the land. Instead of merely listing them, I decided to come up with some of my own awards." Her category concerning the Old Mountain Jug was as follows: the "If you stick the word `old' in front of it, the trophy becomes inherently cooler."
Appalachian State (6-0, 4-0 SoCon) enters Saturday's tilt ranked atop both major Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) polls. Winners of 24-straight conference games - the second-longest such winning streak in SoCon history - the Mountaineers lead the nation in scoring and total offense.
ASU's balanced offensive attack is paced by junior quarterback DeAndre Presley, who leads the nation in passer efficiency. He has tossed 14 touchdowns and 1,341 yards on the year without an interception - a streak that numbers 147 consecutive pass attempts without a pick.
Defensively, ASU is led by three Buck Buchannan Award candidates; up front by Jabari Fletcher (24 tackles), linebacker D.J .Smith (50 tackles) and with Mark LeGree in the secondary, who has 21 career interceptions.
Western Carolina (2-5, 1-3 SoCon) has dropped two-straight games on the season and continues to search for its first home victory. The Catamounts have lost five-straight games at Whitmire Stadium / Waters Field dating back to last year.
Despite struggling to find rhythm offensively over the past two games, sophomore tailback Michael Johnson has averaged 93 yards rushing in those contests, surpassing the 1,000-yard rushing plateau for his WCU career last weekend at Wofford. Another bright spot has been the play of junior captain, Nate Harris. The Holly Springs, N.C., native amassed a career-high 240 all-purpose yards a week ago including a career-best 192 yards on kickoff returns.
WCU is expected to play both quarterbacks on Saturday in junior transfer Zac Brindise and true freshman Brandon Pechloff. The duo is expected to have senior wideout Marquel Pittman back in the lineup this week, flanked by the team's leading scorer, sophomore Jacoby Mitchell, who has five receiving scores on the year.
On the other side of the ball, the Catamounts boast the nation's leader in interceptions on defense as Torez Jones has a career-best six picks to date. September's SoCon Defensive Player of the Month, Jones will anchor a secondary that will look to challenge ASU's Presley and try to force his first INT of the year. Ironically enough, Presley only has two career interceptions - one by WCU defensive back Mitchell Bell back during the 2008 season.
Tickets still remain for the game and can be purchased online at CatamountSports.com or by calling 800-34-GOWCU. On Saturday, the Northwest Ticket Booth and Will Call Windows will open at 10:00 am, with gates opening at 1:30 pm.
Game Notes - Western Carolina vs. Appalachian State
WESTERN CAROLINA VS. APPALACHIAN STATE SERIES:
Western Carolina and Appalachian State, will meet for the 75th time - the "Diamond Anniversary" - in their annual gridiron grudge match ... the "Old Mountain Jug" is up for grabs for the 35th time since the 1976 season ... the Catamounts trail in the all-time series, 18-55-1, in a series that dates back to 1932 ... WCU trails in Cullowhee, 9-22-1, including two-straight losses at home ... the Catamounts have dropped five-straight in the overall series since its dramatic, come-from-behind, 30-27, home win back in 2004 ... WCU has lost 23 of the last 25 overall meetings in the head-to-head series.
MORE HISTORY ON WESTERN CAROLINA VS. APPALACHIAN:
The WCU-ASU rivalry began in 1932 and ASU dominated the series through its first three decades by winning 21 of the first 24 meetings ... The Cats held their own in the 1960s and won six of the games played in the `70s ... After winning four of the first five games in the `80s, WCU saw the Apps regain their edge ... "the Streak" was 13-straight Appalachian State victories from 1985 through 1997, with WCU snapping the streak with a dominating, 23-6, win over the nationally-ranked `Neers in 1998 in Cullowhee ... ASU handed WCU its worst defeat in school-history with a 79-35 win in Boone in 2007, with the Catamounts' current road losing skid in the series standing at 13-straight after the 2009 loss ... the two teams have played for the "Old Mountain Jug" since its inception in 1976.
ADDITIONAL STORY LINES - WCU VS. ASU:
- The Southern Conference's leader in sacks - Western Carolina with 17 or 2.43 per game - will face off against the league's best pass protection in Appalachian State, which has only allowed four sacks all season (0.67 per game);
- The Mountaineers have only tossed one INT this season, best in the SoCon, while the Catamounts have nine picks on the year, tied for third in the league;
- ASU quarterback DeAndre Presley has only thrown two interceptions in 203 career pass attempts under center for the Mountaineers ... WCU's Mitchell Bell has one of the two picks coming back in 2008 in Cullowhee.
EARLIEST BATTLE FOR THE JUG SINCE 1990:
The Oct. 23 date for the annual "Battle for the Old Mountain Jug" marks the earliest meeting between the two mountain rivals since an Oct. 20 meeting in the 1990 season ... the gridiron grudge-match not being at or near the end of the season isn't a novelty, though, as the Catamounts and Mountaineers opened the season against one another in 1986, and have met mid-season a combined four times since WCU joined ASU in the Southern Conference in 1976.
WESTERN CAROLINA VS. NATIONALLY-RANKED FCS TEAMS:
Since 1983, Western Carolina is just 11-65-3 all-time against nationally-ranked, Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) teams ... Eight of Western's 11 wins have come at home as WCU is just 3-37-2 all-time on the road against nationally-ranked FCS teams ... Two of the three road wins came during the 1983 season ... WCU's last win over a ranked opponent came in 2006 - a 20-17 upset victory over then No. 19 Eastern Kentucky in Cullowhee ... WCU's last ROAD win over a nationally-ranked team came at No. 12 Furman on Oct. 27, 1984. (MORE SEE PG. 10)
CATAMOUNTS VS. NO. 1 RANKED TEAMS:
WCU will face a top-ranked team for the eighth-time when it lines up against arch-rival Appalachian State ... WCU is 0-7-0 all-time against No. 1 teams with the most recent meeting coming on Nov. 11, 2006 when the Catamounts fell at No. 1 Appalachian State, 31-9, in the only other meeting between WCU and ASU with one team ranked number one ... the first game against a No. 1 team came against Southern Illinois in the I-AA National Championship in 1983 ... WCU also has three games against Georgia Southern with the Eagles ranked first, and two against then No. 1 Marshall.
Updated Traffic Pattern Reminders:
Fans coming to the game Saturday are again asked to use the University's main entrance off of N.C. Highway 107. All Catamount Club members who have RESERVED PARKING are encouraged to enter campus at the Forest Hills Road entrance to gain access to the Stadium and Creek Parking Lots. Catamount Road, which runs behind the West Stands and the Ramsey Center, will be closed to through traffic with a pass required to gain access to the Chancellor's, Creek and Stadium parking lots.