Related Link: Things to Know Before You Go
Related Link: E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field Information
Cullowhee, N.C. - Longtime chromatic rivals Western Carolina and Furman meet with first-place implications and more on the line in a key Southern Conference match-up slated for Homecoming Saturday afternoon at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 pm.
Individual game tickets for Saturday are on sale online at CatamountSports.com with the ticket booth at Gate 1 slated to open at 10:00 am for walk-up sales on game day.
Fans can follow Saturday's game vs. Furman on the Catamount Sports Network with air time of the Pepsi Pregame Show at 2:30 pm ahead of the 3:30 pm kickoff. The "Voice of the Catamounts," Gary Ayers will be joined by Greg McLamb, Jeff Bryson, and Dan Gibson 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 get game day updates through social media on Twitter following the handle, @Catamounts.
WCU's broadcast production can also be seen on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app with Daniel Hooker calling the play-by-play, Kyle Rush on color commentary, and Katie Miller patrolling the sidelines.
Something's got to give on Saturday afternoon as WCU (6-2, 4-1 SoCon) -- winners of four-straight games at home in Cullowhee dating back to last season -- entertains the red-hot Paladins who carry their five-game seasonal win streak up the mountain in the battle of purple-clad squads. The two enter the game amidst a three-way tie for first place in the SoCon standings, tied with Wofford with matching conference ledgers of 4-1.
The two programs are also vying for the unofficial title of "best turnaround story" in the SoCon this season. WCU -- picked sixth in the preseason -- has bounced back from a disappointing 2-9 season in 2016 that came on the heels of back-to-back seven-victory campaigns. Furman (5-3, 4-1 SoCon), which was pegged at No. 7 in the preseason rankings, has already topped its three-win season from a year ago in the first year under new head coach, Clay Hendrix.
Western Carolina enters the weekend ranked 18th in the STATS FCS poll, which matches the highest ranking by a Catamount football team since also ranking 18th in early October, 2005. The Catamounts have also climbed to 20th in the FCS Coaches polling.
Sixth-year head coach Mark Speir expects his squad to be at full strength entering Saturday's crucial match-up which means the return of two-time All-American running back, Detrez Newsome. With a seasonal rushing average of 125.2 yards per game, the Raeford, N.C., native would far-and-away lead the conference in rushing average despite currently resting below the minimums for games played. The honor of leading the SoCon in rushing does, however, reside with a Catamount as redshirt sophomore QB Tyrie Adams paces the league with a 71.9 yard per game average, while also ranking fourth in the league in passing average at 209.8 yards per game.
Adams and the high-powered Catamount offense will watch its defense try and slow another formidable foe as statistically, Furman nearly matches the video-game like numbers that have been hung to date by WCU. Senior quarterback P.J. Blazejowski -- who made his collegiate debut in relief against the Catamounts three years ago -- ranks second in the NCAA FCS in passer efficiency (178.9) and ranks fifth in both passing yardage (191.9 yds/gm) and total offense (217.5 yds/gm).
All told, WCU and Furman rank 1-2 in two major statistical categories -- WCU leads the league in scoring offense (38.6) while Furman is second at 35.2 ppg. The Catamounts boast the league's best total offense at 467.8 yds/gm (3rd in both rush (249.8) and pass (218.0) offense) with the formation-heavy Furman offense sitting in second in total offense at 426.5 yds/gm.
Defensively, the Catamounts and Paladins trade the top two spots in sacks this season with Furman having dropped opposing quarterbacks 23 times and WCU on their heels with 20 -- 13 coming in the past four games alone.
ADDITIONAL STORYLINES IN SATURDAY'S MEETING WITH FURMAN:
WESTERN CAROLINA VS. FURMAN -- THE SERIES:
Western Carolina trails Furman in the all-time series that dates back to 1971, 12-30-2, including a 6-14-1 overall mark in games played in Cullowhee ... the Catamounts halted a four-game series slide at home, winning its most recent match-up in Cullowhee;
Western Carolina's 38-point, 48-10, victory over Furman in the 2015 meeting represented WCU's largest margin of victory in the series all-time ... It was just the second-time in series history that WCU had eclipsed the 40-point mark -- the other was a 41-21 win over then No. 2 Furman in Cullowhee back in 2005;
Despite having won two of the last three games overall in the series, the Catamounts have suffered losses in 16 of the last 19 head-to-head meetings -- and 18 of the last 22 overall dating back to 1995.
FAMILIAR FACES IN THE WESTERN CAROLINA VS. FURMAN SERIES:
Among the familiar ties in the Furman athletic department is Paladin Assistant AD for Strength Training & Conditioning, David Abernathy, who was an offensive lineman at WCU in 1997-98 and is a 1999 graduate of Western Carolina ... Director of Ticket Sales, Dwight Covington -- a 1980 WCU graduate -- also played football along the offensive and defensive line under legendary head coach Bob Waters;
Western Carolina Chancellor Dr. David O. Belcher -- the 11th chancellor in university history -- is a 1979 graduate of Furman University with a degree in piano performance.
WESTERN CAROLINA ON HOMECOMING AT E.J. WHITMIRE STADIUM:
Since moving into Whitmire Stadium in 1974, Western Carolina is 20-22-1 in Homecoming games ... WCU halted a streak of three-straight losses in Homecoming games with its 2013 overtime win over Elon ... WCU won three-straight Homecoming games -- WCU's longest Homecoming win streaks since winning five-straight between 1998-2002 -- before falling to No. 8 Chattanooga in 2016 ... the Catamounts won 8-of-10 Homecoming games from 1993 through 2002;
Saturday marks the FOURTH time Furman has provided WCU's Homecoming Day opponent -- the first time since 1993, a 23-20 WCU win ... WCU is 1-2 against Furman on its Homecoming, falling to the Paladins, 24-7, back in 1978 and 17-3 in 1993.
MISCELLANEOUS CATAMOUNT FOOTBALL GAME NOTES:
The Catamounts have won FOUR consecutive home wins dating back to the home finale last fall ... It's the longest streak for WCU since winning seven-in-a-row at home from the end of 2014 through a 5-0 home stretch in 2015, plus the first home game of 2016;
Western Carolina QB Tyrie Adams has thrown for 4,246 yards through his first season and a half in Cullowhee -- a mark that already ranks him NINTH in school history, most recently by-passing Jimmy Williams (4,208 yds from 1964-66) ... Entering the Furman game, Adams has 5,179 career yards of total offense (4,246 pass, 933 rush), already SIXTH in the WCU Football record books;
Adams continued his streak of tossing at least one TD pass in each game this season, finding the end zone on a 29-yard pitch and catch to Terryon Robinson in the second quarter in last Saturday's road win at VMI ... Adams has already matched his seasonal TD pass total from his SoCon Freshman of the Year campaign with 15 TD passes in both 2016 & 2017;
Adams leads the Southern Conference in rushing at 71.9 yards per game and is fourth in passing with an average of 209.8 yards per game;
Western Carolina has three running backs -- Corey Holloway, Detrez Newsome, and Donnavan Spencer -- each with six-or-more rushing TDs on the year ... the Catamounts have scored 21 touchdowns on the ground this season, one shy of matching the most for WCU over the last decade -- 22 back in both 2014 and 2012 ... WCU's single-season school benchmark for rushing touchdowns is 25 back in 2001;
WCU has seen its three different running backs -- Spencer (21-for-139 vs. ETSU), Corey Holloway (16-for-119 vs. Davidson; 14-for-105 at Chattanooga) and Detrez Newsome (15-for-288 vs. Davidson; 16-for-146 at Gardner-Webb) -- have each rushed for 100 yards for WCU in a game this season ... Combined, four Catamounts have eclipsed the century mark on the ground as QB Tyrie Adams has a pair of 100+ yard games this season, too (23-for-107 at Hawai'i; 20-for-152 vs. Samford);
Things to Know Before You Go:
This reminder: as per policy, NO UMBRELLAS are permitted into the stadium seating area of E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field. Patrons are reminded to dress accordingly for the weather. The WCU Bookstore does have ponchos for sale on game day.
Where to Park:
Parking lots on campus open to the public at 8:00 am -- official tailgating begins at Noon;
General Admission parking is available in the following parking lots on the WCU campus: H.F. Robinson Building (Lot 1A & 1B) and both the North and South Baseball Lots (8A & 8B) ... It is also recommended that fans consider taking Old Cullowhee Road to the old entrance to the WCU campus and utilize parking in the lots behind Hunter Library for game day ... Parking is also available down Long Branch Road behind the Catamount Travel Center (Student Commuter Lot 73) and past the Cullowhee Post Office at the WCU Health & Human Science (HHS) parking lots (FREE SHUTTLE, see below);
Note: WCU Parking & Transportation will run a FREE "Game Day Shuttle" for the rest of this year's home football games. Vehicles will be directed to park across the street from campus at the Health & Human Services (HHS) Lots# 76A & B and Catamount Travel Center Lot#73 down Little Savannah Road where patrons will be picked up by the FREE shuttle and delivered to the Ramsey Center circle drive on Forest Hills Road. Shuttles will also be available after the game for return trips to these lots. FREE shuttles will be available from 1:30pm - 8:30pm on Oct. 28, from Noon - 7:00pm on Nov. 11, 2017. Please note that this is NOT a shuttle around campus - just to and from the parking lots.
Catamount Club Reserved Parking Lots (parking pass required) include: Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center (Lot 13), Belk (Lot14), Jordan-Phillips Field House (Lot 12), Football Stadium (Lot 10), Creek (Lot 9C) Lot, and Camp Lab Festival Parking (Lot 4A) ... All patrons with parking passes should enter the FOREST HILLS ROAD (third stop light) entrance to campus, display parking credential to gain access to Catamount Road, which is closed to thru traffic beginning at Noon.
Where to Buy Tickets:
Purchase - and PRINT - tickets in advance through CatamountSports.com.
On Game Day:
WCU Athletic Ticket Office - (828) 227-2401 -- phone lines open beginning at 9:00 AM until kickoff time at 3:30 pm ... There is only phone order and ticket information at the Ramsey Center ticket office on game day -- NO WALK-UP SALES;
Gate 1 Ticket Sales on the West Side of the stadium open at 10:00 am;
Ticket sales at all other gates begin at Noon - Gates 2, 3, and 4;
All stadium gates open to the public at 2:00 pm ... Gate 6 for Player Pass also opens at 2:00 pm.
Remember to bring proper photo identification to pick up tickets at WCU's Will Call;
Main Will Call for picking up purchased tickets or tickets being left for pick-up is at Gate 1; however, fans are able to receive Will Call at any entrance gate ticket booth;
Guests of WCU Chancellor Dr. David Belcher can pick up tickets at Will Call at Gate 4;
WCU Football Player's Guest will utilize Gate 6; as well as Dance/Cheer Guests: Gate 6 ... Those who are on the player pass list must show a photo ID in order to pick up their tickets -- again, Player Pass will call will not open until 2:00 pm when the stadium gates are open;
Once player pass tickets are picked up, the individual MUST enter the stadium;
Football Recruits: Hospitality, enter through door next to truck tunnel. After 2:00 pm, go to Gate 6;
All Other Recruits: Gate 6;
High School Coaches: Present card to any ticket booth and receive up to TWO free admission tickets ... Pick up tickets from any ticket booth -- not the player pass location.
Purple Reserved: Adult $30 Youth (Ages 3-12) $20 (All Gates) -- Sections L, LL, K, KK, J, JJ;
Gold Reserved: Adult $25 Youth (Ages 3-12) $15 (All Gates) -- Sections D, DD, E, EE, F, FF, MM, II;
General Admission: Adult $20, Youth (Ages 3-12) $15 -- Sections G, GG seating only
Other Helpful Game Day Hints:
Friendly reminder that umbrellas are NOT permitted into E.J. Whitmire Stadium;
BRING CASH -- though WCU's ticket booths and concessions stands at Whitmire Stadium are capable of credit/debit card transactions, lines for the popular stadium fare can back up ... There will be extra CASH-ONLY lines for items such as drinks on game day;
Arrive early to avoid long lines entering Whitmire Stadium ... Also, there are numerous gates that allow entry to the stadium -- familiarize yourself with the best gates to get you to your seats for the pregame festivities!
Be sure to enjoy a variety of stadium fare at the concessions stands -- or other vendors such as Bojangles', Salarita's, and Speedy's Pizza.
Game Day Promotions:
Catamount Sports Network affiliates WISE Sports Radio out of Asheville and 540 AM WRGC in Sylva will be both be on hand broadcasting live outside of Gate 1;
Gather with other Purple & Gold clad faithful to cheer on the Catamounts during the "Cat Walk" to the stadium at approximately 1:20 pm in the Stadium and Field House parking lots;
The WCU Game Day Information Booth opens at 1:30 pm just outside of Gate 1;
The Catamount Kids' Zone opens at 2:00 pm just inside the main entrance at Gate 1;
Wounded veteran Jamie Ashe will carry the American Flag out of the tunnel as the team takes the field, stemming from Coach Mark Speir's work with "Operation Heal Our Patriots" ... Jamie's daughter is a student at WCU;
At halftime and again following the game, the "Pride of the Mountains" Marching Band are scheduled to perform their show to the East Side stands.
The Catamount Club:
The Purple Zone (requires credential): Located on the Ramsey Center Patio - is open from 1:00 pm until 3:00 pm;
Paws Porch (requires ticket, credential): Located on the patio of the Jordan Phillips Fieldhouse: Doors open at 3:00 pm.