Oct. 24, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. - The Catamount football team returns home for a second-consecutive Saturday as it plays host to the Elon Phoenix at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field in the centerpiece of a busy Homecoming Weekend at Western Carolina University. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 pm.
Saturday's game marks the final conference showdown between the Catamounts and the Phoenix as Elon exits the SoCon beginning next fall for the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).
Fans can follow Saturday afternoon's football game on the Catamount Sports Network with an air time of 2:30 pm across all 11 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.
A live video stream (subscription) of Saturday's game is available online through Catamount All-Access on CatamountSports.com.
Western Carolina (1-7, 0-4 SoCon) looks to build upon last weekend's solid performance against the 12th-ranked Wofford Terriers. The Catamounts fell, 21-17, but had two drives into scoring position in the closing six minutes of regulation with the final pass attempt falling incomplete in the end zone as time expired on the upset bid.
WCU's close-call, nail-biter came just one week after Elon had the same nationally-ranked Terrier squad on the ropes in Spartanburg. Wofford held off the Elon's upset threat with a last-second goal line stand, thwarting four rushing plays from inside the five-yard line to complete the come-from-behind win.
WCU and Elon square off for the 43rd time in series history (WCU trails 16-24-2) on Saturday with the Catamounts looking to halt a seven-game slide in the series which includes three-consecutive home losses. In addition, WCU is vying to snap a 33-game winless drought against NCAA Division I squads including a 26-game skid against SoCon teams, as well as a three-game losing streak on Homecoming.
Last season, Elon blitzed the Catamounts for 28-straight points to open the game before WCU rallied with 16-consecutive of its own to end the first half and start the second. However, the Phoenix fended off WCU's road attack to claim a 42-31 victory at Rhodes Stadium.
The Phoenix edged WCU, 38-31, in the most recent meeting in Cullowhee back in the 2011 season.
According to WCU head football coach Mark Speir, preparing for Elon (2-6, 1-3 SoCon) all starts with their quarterback, Mike Quinn, who he called "a really good passer." Quinn enters the game ranked second in the SoCon in passing yards per game (226.1 yds/gm) while tallying a league-leading 1,729 yards combined.
On the other sideline, though, WCU's signal caller, Troy Mitchell, is right behind Quinn in several categories. The Houston, Texas, product is fourth in passing yards per game (181.4) despite facing three Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) defenses this season. Collectively, Mitchell ranks second in the SoCon in total offense, accounting for 240.9 yards per game when factoring in passing and rushing yardage.
Elon head coach Jason Swepson called Saturday's trip to Cullowhee to face the Catamounts "like looking at ourselves in a mirror... two teams that are just looking for a way to win a football game."
"Coach (Mark) Speir is doing a great job in building that program," said Swepson of WCU. "This is going to be a four-quarter game and it's probably going to come down to the last play of the game. You've got two teams that are searching for a conference win. It's going to be a fun football game."
Kickoff of the annual Homecoming football game is scheduled for 3:30 pm at Whitmire Stadium / Waters Field.
Additional Note of Interest:
• Elon WR Ricky Brown and WCU DL Pete Balthrop, Jr. both graduated from West Forsyth High;
• Both Elon WR Justin Osborne and WCU DB Terrence Green attended First Coast High (Fla.);
• Graduates of Independence High include Elon WR Kierre Brown and WCU LB Courtland Carson;
• Elon P David Petroni was teammates with WCU LB Bryson Jordan at Buford High (Ga.);
• Elon DL Chris Jones attended Douglas Byrd High along with WCU RB Garry Lewis;
• Two members of the Catamount coaching staff spent time on staff at Elon ... Catamount head coach Mark Speir was at Elon from 2000- 2002, serving time as the running backs and defensive line coach while also acting as the recruiting coordinator ... offensive coordinator Brad Glennwas Elon's tight ends coach in 2001.
Western Carolina Homecoming Weekend, 2013
Saturday marks Homecoming Weekend in Cullowhee, which officially got underway with "Spirit Night" held Thursday evening at the Central Plaza on the WCU campus. Speir and several team captains attended the event held at the fountain.
Activities ramp up on Friday with the annual Alumni Scholarship Golf Tournament at the Waynesville Inn, Golf Resort & Spa in Waynesville, N.C., with a Noon tee-time. Back in Jackson County, the annual Homecoming Parade hits the streets of Sylva beginning at 6:15 pm. Former Catamount student-athletes that are returning to Cullowhee for Homecoming and the special "All-Sport Reunion" will gather at Tuck's Tap & Grille just off the WCU campus at 7:00 pm for a special social.
On Saturday morning, WCU's Alumni Award recipients - Joan Mac Neill (Distinguished Service Award); Johnny Carson (Academic Achievement Award); Wes Elingburg (Professional Achievement Award) and Manteo Mitchell (Young Alumnus Award) - will be honored at the Chancellor's Brunch (cost is $15; business attire) in the University Center Grand Room.
Tailgating for Saturday afternoon's Homecoming game gets underway at Noon with a special "All Sports Reunion" celebration taking place just outside the Ramsey Center, with kickoff at Whitmire Stadium / Waters Field at 3:30 pm. Prior to kickoff on Saturday, former student-athletes will lead the Catamount football team onto the field through the tunnel as a part of the special All Sports Reunion.
Also on campus this weekend, the Catamount baseball team will hold its annual Fall College World Series intrasquad scrimmages with first pitch at 4 pm on Friday, 11 am on Saturday and 2 pm on Sunday afternoon at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
Here's an excerpt of Tuesday's SoCon Teleconference:
WCU head coach Mark Speir:
On last week's home loss to #12 Wofford:
"The Wofford game was a really good college football game. A game that was back-and-forth the whole time. We were able to take it down and have two shots in the red zone at the end of the game with two opportunities to win it. But we didn't get it done. It was a physical football game against a really good Wofford Terrier team. I was proud of our guy's efforts, how we're maturing as a football team. I just wish we'd been able to make a play or two and come away with a victory."
On the Elon Phoenix:
"They've been in a lot of close ballgames themselves. Elon has battled with the teams they've played this year."
Elon head coach Jason Swepson:
On his squad continuing to battle despite close losses this season:
"We're still moving forward. We still believe that we've got a good football team. We're just a handful of plays away of really reversing our win-loss record. Our kids are still fighting; obviously, they're a little disappointed."
On Western Carolina's growth as a football team:
"They run the spread offense and they've got some play-makers. At the quarterback position, (Troy) Mitchell is fabulous. We saw him last year and he almost brought their team back to a victory here. They've got the receiver, (Karnorris) Benson, that is a solid player. The tight end (Michael) Helms has made some plays here the last couple of games. And the running back (Darius) Ramsey is doing a good job in going north-and-south in the run game. They're well coached. They've had a couple turnovers here and there, but you can see each week that they are getting better and better."
"They're veteran on defense with seven returning starters. (Caleb) Hawkins and (John) McBeth at the defensive ends; (Courtland) Carson has been there forever and (Christon) Gill.
"They've played an unbelievable schedule with Middle Tennessee, Virginia Tech and Auburn; and then playing Samford and Chattanooga and obviously The Citadel. They've played three difficult Division I-A teams and the top-tier of our Southern Conference. They've played some good football and it's going to be a hard fought football game. Whoever makes the least amount of mistakes will win this game."
Things to Know Before You Go:
- Fans tailgating in Cullowhee on Saturday will be notified when it's 30 and 15 minutes prior to kickoff by the iconic Catamount Growl that will be played over the University's first-alert speaker system ... All fans are encouraged to be in the stadium prior to kickoff - and it is respectfully requested that all tailgating cease prior to 3:30 pm;
- Gates at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field open 90 minutes prior to kickoff for all home games ... On Saturday afternoon, fans can enter the stadium for pre-game beginning at 2:00 pm ... Tailgating with alcoholic beverages is permitted three and a half hours prior to kickoff, beginning at Noon;
- Game day ticket sales can take place at any of the entrances to E.J. Whitmire Stadium ... Will Call for Saturday's game will take place at the Northwest Ticket Booth (Gate 1, main stadium entrance) beginning at 10:00 am ... All other ticket booths and gates open at 2:00 pm;
- Fans can avoid the lines on game day by purchasing tickets online at CatamountSports.com;
- Gate 2, which in years past has served as the main student entrance, will ONLY be open for entry for members of the Student Catamount Club ... the gate will close at 3:25 pm ahead of kickoff ... Students and fans who are NOT a part of the Student Catamount Club will need to use Gate 3 at the top of the stairs or Gate 4 along Forest Hills Drive to gain access to the East Side stadium.