Saturday, October 11, 2014

Catamounts serve Terriers first SoCon loss

This afternoon, Wofford looks to continue a good start to their SoCon schedule with a game against Western Carolina, who have an identical record to the Terriers, at E.J. Whitmire Stadium in Cullowhee, N.C.

Missed opportunities, special teams miscues mire Terriers in three-point halftime deficit

Western Carolina made sure they made themselves known early, as Detrez Newsome took the opening kickoff from two yards deep in the end zone and proceeded to slice across the sparsely defended field, giving the Catamounts an early 7-0 lead and seemingly all the momentum in the Great Smoky Mountains.

That looked to still be the case when the Terriers, despite a promising 10-yard rush from Ray Smith on their first play from scrimmage, failed to put anything together on their first series and were forced to snap it to Brian Sanders, who punted it 54 yards away.

The Catamounts, however, obviously had some early troubles from scrimmage, and were forced three-and-out during their first attempt at a drive.

Following Destry Barnwell's 40-yard punt, Lorenzo Long put together a series of short rushes to give Wofford a first down at the Catamount 34. Ray Smith then trotted twenty yards inside the red zone to set up a thirteen-yard touchdown run for Evan Jacks, effectively knotting the score at seven apiece.

Western Carolina's struggles from scrimmage continued to materialize, as the Catamounts were stopped up at their own 15-yard line, bringing forth a 44-yard punt from Barnwell.

A 9-play, 52-yard Terrier drive that took up the final minutes of the first quarter culminated in a 24-yard field goal attempt for redshirt freshman David Marvin, which was blocked. The miss is Marvin's first as a collegiate kicker.

The sides traded punts, and Western Carolina soon found themselves in a hole, facing a grim third-and-ten at midfield. Although Wes Holcombe's throw fell incomplete, the Terriers were flagged for a roughing the passer penalty that gave the home squad a fresh set of downs in Wofford territory. Garret Brown's rushing power helped bring the Catamounts inside the Terrier 20-yard line, before Detrez Newsome found himself being pushed back for negative yardage, to the Wofford 16.

Two plays later, Richard Sigmon's 33-yard kick capped a 10-play, 51-yard drive that handed Western Carolina their second lead of the afternoon.

The Terriers began to show some promise as the game clock dwindled ever closer to halftime, stringing together rushes from Lorenzo Long, Jonny Martin, Cam Flowers, and Evan Jacks himself to bring up a crucial fourth-and-one at the Catamount 22-yard line. Nick Colvin gained three yards to keep the drive alive.

A few plays later, Wofford faced a similar situation, when Jacks gained just enough to move the chains on third-and-one at the Catamount 10. Nick Covin brought it down to the one, but it didn't matter, as Lorenzo Long fumbled the ball away on the ensuing play, effectively killing the opportunity.

As we approach the second half, we hope to see some improvement on Terrier special teams coverage, and of course, ball control. It's still anyone's game in Cullowhee.

Defense not the problem in disappointing second half

The Terriers, looking to again clutch some momentum after so devastatingly losing it near the end of the first half, traversed 21 yards of the field following a 16-yard kickoff return by Lorenzo Long, only to be stopped up on fourth-and-one at their own 36-yard line.

Then the strangest of things happened.

After Troy Mitchell launched a 33-yard pass to Spearman Robinson, one that brought the Catamounts all the way to the Terrier 3-yard line, Darius Ramsey logged a pair of single-yard rushes that gave the home team third-and-goal at the Wofford 2. On the ensuing play, the Catamounts were flagged for a false start penalty, pushing them back five yards to the Terrier 6. Mitchell's next pass was picked off by Brion Anderson in the end zone, in a play that appeared to be executed cleanly by the St. Augustine, Fla., native. However, the play was brought back on charges of pass interference, effectively taking away some Terrier momentum and hope once again.

The Catamounts found themselves with renewed spirit and a fresh set of downs at the one yard line (Dylan Young had been called for a personal foul, bringing it half the distance to the goal from the Wofford 2). In a stand that brought back flashes of last week's last-second holdup of The Citadel, Wofford's defense denied the Catamounts on every remaining play, including a fourth-and-goal that saw Darius Ramsey stacked up short of the goal line.

A bit of miscommunication on the Terriers' ensuing snap brought Evan Jacks to the ground in the end zone to recover the fumble, tacking on a safety to the Catamounts' lead.

Western Carolina, however, was forced three-and-out on their next series, giving Wofford more hope that they could stage a short comeback. That didn't happen, as the Terriers found themselves in the same situation as the Cats.

The Catamounts then embarked on a 9-play, 59-yard drive that was capped off by a one-yard Troy Mitchell scamper.

Cam Flowers broke free for 33 yards on Wofford's next play from scrimmage, and Ray Smith gained 23 yards on a strong run two plays later. Flowers brought it in from ten yards out to cut the deficit to 19-14 on what was a 6-play, 88-yard drive.

Western Carolina ended up finding continuity and ultimately putting the game away in a 12-play, 71-yard drive that was completed by a 24-yard Detrez Newsome run.

On Wofford's last-chance effort, Evan Jacks failed to convert on fourth-and-one, giving the Catamounts the ball with 3:24 remaining in the game.

That would be it, as the Catamounts would hang on for a 26-14 win and an advancement to 2-0 in conference play, while the Terriers find themselves at 1-1 SoCon and 3-3 overall.

Here's a look at some additional points of interest:

  • The loss snaps a eight-game winning streak for the Terriers, which dated back to 2006. Their last setback to the Catamounts, a 24-0 loss in 2005, was the last time Wofford had been shutout before the 3-0 loss to Gardner-Webb a year ago.
  • Wofford outgained the Catamounts 273-246, with 270 of those yards coming on the ground.
  • The Terriers made 16 first downs, three more than Western Carolina, but were 5-for-12 on third downs, compared to the Catamounts' 8-for-14 mark. Wofford was 1-for-3 on fourth down conversions, and Western Carolina was 0-for-1.
  • Both sides were flagged for five penalties, with Wofford's costing them 40 yards, and Western Carolina's costing them 45 yards.
  • The Catamounts won the time of possession battle, 32:56 to 27:04.
  • Evan Jacks rushed for 59 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, and completed one of his three pass attempts for three yards.
  • Ray Smith rushed for 63 yards on eight carries, while Cam Flowers put up 53 yards and a touchdown on six carries. 
  • Will Irwin caught the only pass completed for the Terriers.
  • Lorenzo Long returned four kickoffs for 100 yards, and Cam Flowers took back one for 36 yards.
  • David Marvin was 0-for-1 on his field goals, with the lone try being blocked by the Catamounts.
  • Brian Sanders booted three punts for 118 yards total (39.3 average).
Next Saturday, the Terriers will make the trip to Birmingham, Ala., to take on the Samford Bulldogs (3-2, 2-1 SoCon), who had this weekend off.

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