Cats Earn Respect; Fall to Louisville, 31-7

Saturday night’s game at Papa John’s stadium was supposed to simply be a big payday for the Division I-AA Catamounts. Instead, the upset-minded Cats gave the Louisville Cardinals all they wanted and left the “Bluegrass State” with the check and a little respect after the 31-7 decision.

Following the game, WCU (1-1) head coach Bill Bleil said he wasn’t big on moral victories. However, he was very pleased with the way his squad responded against the highly touted Cardinals.

“I thought we played a lot better tonight,” said Bleil. “Obviously, we played a lot better team tonight than we did a week ago against Mars Hill. I thought the players prepared themselves a lot better this week.”

He added, “You know, there’s a bunch of sad guys in (the locker room). We had a chance. We gave up two big plays one on the kicking game and one long pass. But that’s a positive because we’ve cut down on those. We held those mistakes to a minimum and hopefully we can build off of that. But I’m so proud of them because they played hard.”

Sophomore quarterback Brian Gaither once again started for the Catamount offense. However, early on the first drive he was hit as he released by the Louisville defensive line. He was taken to the sidelines and replaced by junior-college transfer, Pat Cilento, who struggled in his first game throwing a pair of interceptions against Mars Hill.

However, Cilento seemed to have the hot hand Saturday night moving the offense. With his success came trust from the coaching staff, who remained with Cilento the rest of the game.

“Gaither was ok (after the hit),” said Bleil, “and we wanted to play him more. But we felt Pat (Cilento) was playing well enough that we didn’t want to lose rhythm with the team.”

Bleil added, “Brian was playing great. He delivered a strike when he got knocked out (of the game).”

Cilento finished 11-for-20 passing for 92 yards and no interceptions. The majority of the passes where short, underneath routes with his longest completion going for 14 yards to tight end Brian Rucker.

Sophomore Lamont Seward led all WCU receivers with 24 yards on a pair of catches. Fullback Walter Gary had 23 yards on three catches, with Rucker hauling down a pair for 20 yards.