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Rivalry Rekindled - Catamounts Visit #8 Mountaineers on Saturday

Deja Alexander caught a career-best nine passes for a career-high 151 yards in last year's meeting with Appalachian State in Cullowhee.

Nov. 10, 2011

Football Players Share What the Battle for the Old Mountain Jug Means to Them (VIDEO)

Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina visits eighth-ranked Appalachian State this Saturday afternoon as the mountain rivalry is rekindled with the gridiron grudge match that is the annual "Battle for the Old Mountain Jug." Kickoff from Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone is scheduled for 3:30 pm.

Saturday's game will be broadcast by the Catamount Sports Network and can be heard locally on WWCU-FM, Power 90dot5 in Cullowhee; 96.7 FM WNCC in Franklin and Macon County; 920 AM WPTL in Canton; and on 1600 AM WTZQ in Hendersonville. Fans can also follow all of the live streaming audio online through Stretch Internet at

Western Carolina and Appalachian State will meet on the football field for the 76th time with WCU trailing in the all-time series, 18-56-1, including a mark of 9-28 in Boone. The "Old Mountain Jug" is up for grabs for the 36th time since 1976. The Catamounts have dropped six-straight overall - and 13-straight on the road - to the Mountaineers since the dramatic come-from-behind, 30-27, win back in 2004. WCU will also look to end a 17-game drought against nationally-ranked FCS teams - which also equals ASU's current home winning streak against Southern Conference foes.

WCU was without head coach Dennis Wagner during the beginning of the week as he was attending the funeral services of his father-in-law in Iowa. Newly appointed Assistant Head Coach Mark Rheahandled the weekly SoCon Coaches' Teleconference and he stated that the coordinators have handled a lot of the practice and preparation while staying in contact with Wagner.

Rhea was asked about the mindset of the team entering this weekend's "Battle for the Old Mountain Jug" with the off-the-field distractions.

"Our kids have been so resilient and it's been fantastic to be around them," said Rhea during the teleconference. "They've had a lot of adversity on and off the field. Our kids come to play every day. They enjoy the game of football, they enjoy being at practice. On game day, they just come alive. It's a joy for me as a coach - and I know the other coaches - to be around them."

Rhea, who is amidst his second season on the Catamount coaching staff, stated that he became very familiar with the WCU-ASU rivalry immediately upon stepping on campus.

"For our team every year, this game is a red-letter game or the game that you're going to highlight on the schedule because it means so much to our alumni, our fans, our faculty, our staff. There is not a person in this area that this game does not affect," said Rhea. "Obviously, it's a big game for (Appalachian) as well. They have a lot on the line and a lot of goals that they can still attain. For us, it's that rivalry game, playing for the `Jug.' It's simply said that this is huge game for us year-in and year-out. This year is no different than other years in the aspect of we want to win, they want to win. And it means a lot for everyone."

During his time on the call, long-time Appalachian State head coach Jerry Moore talked about the WCU-ASU series and looked ahead to Saturday's meeting.

"We probably haven't played anyone that will play us harder than Western," said Moore. "You can almost forget about the season, the records and all that stuff. They've been playing for the `Old Mountain Jug' here for a long, long, long time before any of us were around to see it. It's still got a lot of value."

Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 pm in Boone.