#25 Georgia Southern makes it 12 straight wins over #24 WCU, 24-14

Going into Family Weekend, the Cats knew they would have a tough time against #25 Georgia Southern (2-2, 1-1 SoCon), but they couldn’t have known that the offense would be the unit to struggle the most. After losing four defensive linemen against Furman the week before, the Catamount defense was expected to struggle with only one lineman back for this game. Instead, it was the offense that struggled and was the downfall of Western. The Catamount defense played valiantly and after struggling in the first half. They stepped up and played very well in the second. The offense, on the other hand, did not get untracked until the fourth quarter when it was too little too late. The Catamount loss was the 12th straight loss to Georgia Southern but was significantly closer than last year’s 45-7 drubbing in Statesboro. Coming into the game, the Cats were ranked 24th, even though they lost to #3 Furman the week before by a score of 42-7. With the injuries on the D-line, it was expected that the Eagles would run the ball over and over again through the heart of the defense. This expectation helped the Eagles’ Travis Clark launch a 65-yard play-action touchdown pass to Darius Smiley on the very first play of the game. The extra point was blocked to make the score 6-0. After a Western punt, the Eagles got the ball back. This time it was the running game that put the ball in the endzone. While Western returned All-SoCon performer Felipe Foster and defensive regular Darren Curtis on the D-line, they were being helped by linebacker Marcus Nelums (215 lbs.) and tight end brothers James and Gene Singletary (270 lbs. and 245 lbs. respectively). With such a light D-line, the Eagles pounded the ball on the ground 7 times for 41 yards on a 9 play drive before handing it to Chris Covington from one yard out for a touchdown on the 10th play. This time the Eagles’ quarterback Travis Clark ran it in for a two point conversion to make the score 14-0. Western’s offense was lethargic for most of the day, especially in the first half. When Western finally got deep into Georgia Southern territory on the 32-yard line, tailback Darius Fudge fumbled and turned the ball over. Quarterback Bennett Swygert would throw two interceptions later on in the second quarter to add onto the misery. Georgia Southern would tack on a field goal after the second pick to make the score 17-0 going into the half. The Cats started off the second half much like they ended the first as Swygert threw his third interception of the day. The Eagles would be stuffed on 4th-and-goal from the two yard line, though, as the Cats defense started to play much better in the second half. Without any offensive help, the defense was left on their own to win the game. Eventually they wore down at the end of the third quarter. This time it was the passing game that softened up the Catamount defense, as the Eagles completed four passes for 48 yards. Then with 2nd-and-4, Georgia Southern handed off to Chris Covington who bounced the run outside for a 33-yard touchdown to push the score to 24-0 at the beginning of the fourth. Swygert was knocked out of the game midway through the third quarter, so University of Cincinnati-transfer Todd Spitzer replaced him. After struggling through the rest of the third, Spitzer really flashed some potential in the fourth. Spitzer connected with Michael Hines for two touchdown passes of 5 and 23 yards to make the score 24-14, but it was too little too late for the Catamounts who fell to 2-2 overall and 0-2 in the SoCon.