Related Link: Things to Know Before You Go
Related Link: E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field Information
Related Link: Catamount Football Weekly: vs. Mercer
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina football will play its final regular season home game on Saturday afternoon at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field; that is a fact. But the ramifications beyond the game have made it one of the most anticipated dates in recent memory for the Catamounts.
Post-season aspirations and an eighth seasonal victory -- both distant chimera more than they've been within reach for the past 30-plus years -- are both seemingly one fall Saturday afternoon away as No. 25/22 Western Carolina (7-3, 5-2 SoCon) hosts the Mercer Bears (4-5, 3-4 SoCon) with a 2:00 pm kickoff.
Fans can follow Saturday's game vs. Mercer on the Catamount Sports Network with air time of the Pepsi Pregame Show at 1:00 pm ahead of the 2:00 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 and Kyle Rush on color commentary.
Western Carolina will recognize 21 senior members of the Catamount football team in a special pregame ceremony. WCU will also recognize all of the senior members of the WCU Dance Team, the Catamount cheerleaders, and the "Pride of the Mountains" Marching Band, with the latter following the band's halftime performance. In addition, WCU will recognize its newest inductee into the WCU Athletics Hall of Fame, former Catamount football player and coach, Don Powers, during the first quarter break.
Saturday's game is also "Military Appreciation Day" with former and active members of the military receiving free admission in addition to a $15 ticket for their families, with the same deal extended to all first-responders including active and retired police, fire, and emergency services personnel. WCU Faculty & Staff will also have the option of receiving a free ticket with their valid WCU employee ID.
Looking for a do-over from a rain-soaked Homecoming game in WCU's last appearance at Whitmire Stadium / Waters Field, Saturday's forecast is nearly picture-perfect for a fall afternoon in the South. Mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-50s at kickoff with the Cullowhee autumn backdrop make this a hot ticket across Western North Carolina.
For a second-straight week, Western Carolina's SoCon-leading offense will face the top scoring defense in the league. Mercer supplanted The Citadel as the top scoring defensive team, limiting foes to 19.0 points per game while the Bulldogs are now surrendering 19.2 points per contest.
Already with a third, seven-win season under head coach Mark Speir -- and just the 14th, seven-win season all-time in Cullowhee, WCU looks to keep pace in a tight Southern Conference race, clinging to an outside chance at a share of the conference crown -- but more importantly, looking to halt a 34-year drought for post-season play into late November, something that has only been experienced once since the program went NCAA Division I in 1976.
Saturday marks just the fourth series meeting all-time with the Catamounts holding a slim, 2-1, series lead over the Bears that includes a come-from-behind, 24-21, victory in the only other game played in Cullowhee back in 2015. Detrez Newsome -- who enters the weekend just 67 yards shy of becoming WCU's first running back with three, 1,000-yard rushing seasons -- rumbled 22-yards inside the final minute of the game to propel the Catamounts to the victory.
Kickoff is scheduled for 2:00 pm.
ADDITIONAL GAME NOTES:
Detrez Newsome enters Saturday's game after back-to-back, 100-yard rushing performances since returning from injury ... Newsome has 15 career 100-yard rushing games, tying him with former tailbacks Otis McIntosh (1968-71) and Brad Hoover (1996-99) for the second-most, 100-yard rushing games in program history ... All-time leading rusher, Darrell Lipford (1974-77), rushed for 100+ yards in 22 games during his career;
Newsome has 933 seasonal rushing yards, moving to within 67 yards of his school-record third-consecutive, 1,000-yard rushing season, which would make him the first Catamount to have three-consecutive seasons of over 1,000 yards on the ground ... Newsome has 3,561 career rushing yards, just 55 yards shy of second-place Brad Hoover (1996-99) who amassed 3,616 career rushing yards during his career ... Lipford is WCU's all-time leading rusher with 4,089 yards gained on the ground; Redshirt senior WR Terryon Robinson has 2,687 career receiving yards, moving into sixth in program history to bypass former Catamount Craig Aiken (1991-94) who had 2,654 yards receiving ... Robinson is just 136 receiving yards shy of fifth-place Michael Banks (2,823 yards from 1999-2002) ... Robinson is already WCU's career receptions leader, entering Saturday's game with 219 catches -- SEVENTH in SoCon history;
WCU QB Tyrie Adams has thrown for 4,415 yards through his first season and a half in Cullowhee -- a mark that already ranks him NINTH in school history, and is just 34 yards shy of eighth-place Willie Perkins (1982-86, 4,449 yds) ... Entering the Mercer game, Adams has 5,415 career yards of total offense (4,415 pass / 1,000 rush), already FOURTH in the WCU Football record books;
With TD passes in all but one game this season, Adams has already surpassed his seasonal TD pass total from his SoCon Freshman of the Year campaign of 15 TD passes with 16 scoring tosses in 2017;
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 23 touchdowns on the ground this season, THE MOST by a Catamount offense since setting a single-season school benchmark for rushing touchdowns with 25 back in the 2001 season;
WCU has seen its three different RBs -- 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; 26-for-110 vs. Furman; 24-for-197 at The Citadel) -- 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 (23-for-107 at Hawai'i; 20-for-152 vs. Samford);
On the other side of the ball, WCU's defense has quietly keyed the resurgent Catamounts, vaulting to the top of the SoCon in passing defense including pass defense efficiency (100.9) and yardage (155.7 yds/gm) ... the Catamounts have a LEAGUE-LEADING 13 interceptions -- the most by a WCU defense since 2006 -- while also ranking third in the conference with 20 total sacks ... the Catamounts will be tested this weekend by the SoCon's third-best passing attack as Mercer averages 210.9 yds/gm through the air.
WESTERN CAROLINA'S DEFENSIVE IMPROVEMENTS:
Western Carolina's defense recorded an interception in three of the first four games this season -- and now SEVEN of its 10 on the year ... WCU LEADS the SoCon with 13 picks on the year ... Marvin Tillman has a team-best five, while Shamon Elliott has three and John Brannon III has a pair of picks ... WCU has 10 interceptions through nine games this year after collecting just six all of last season; WCU has recorded 20 sacks to date between 11 different players ... Last year, the Catamounts only managed nine total sacks for the season; Thru 10 games, Western Carolina's defense is allowing 127 fewer points (averaging 22.5 ppg this year vs. 35.2 ppg last year); 147 fewer yards per game; and getting off the field more quickly than last season as opponents are successful just 37 percent of the time on third downs this fall -- last year that percentage was 53%.
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 the South Baseball Lots... 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 Noon - 7:00pm on Nov. 11. 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 2:00 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 11:00 am - Gates 2, 3, and 4;
All stadium gates open to the public at 12:30 pm ... Gate 6 for Player Pass also opens at 12:30 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 12:30 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 12:30 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:
WCU Cheer Clinic -- at Camp Lab; WCU Dance Clinic 9 am -- 11:30 am Campus Rec Center -- cost $30 Gather with other Purple & Gold clad faithful to cheer on the Catamounts during the "Cat Walk" to the stadium at approximately 11:45 am in the Stadium and Field House parking lots;
The WCU Game Day Information Booth opens at 12:00 pm just outside of Gate 1;
The Catamount Kids' Zone opens at 12:30 pm just inside the main entrance at Gate 1;
Free WCU Koozies inside Gate 1 while they last courtesy of Ingles;
Fans are encouraged to be in the stands early -- approximately 30 minutes before kickoff -- for a special tribute to "Super Cam" Brown and the 2017 Senior Day recognitions;
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 ... Following their performance, the 2017 "Pride of the Mountains" Marching Band seniors will be recognized;
Bobble heads courtesy of Pepsi to Season Ticket Holders only, those who renewed by July 31 ... the bobble heads will be distributed at Gate 4 and Gate 7 ... Each ticket holder must present bobble head voucher;
The Catamount Club:
The Purple Zone (requires credential): Located on the Ramsey Center Patio - is open from 11:30 am until 1:30 pm;
Paws Porch (requires ticket, credential): Located on the patio of the Jordan Phillips Fieldhouse: Doors open at 11:30 am -- end of game.