Catamounts get first win of season against Blue Hose, snap 12-game losing skid

After more than a calendar year of continuous losing, head coach Kent Briggs received a huge present for his birthday on September 22, 2007. His Catamounts finally ended a 12-game losing skid by defeating the Blue Hose of Presbyterian College 33-20 in Cullowhee. The Catamounts (1-3), whose season had a rocky start, now have a win under their belts headed into Southern Conference play. After losing 12 in a row and their first three games of the season, the Catamounts feel proud of their victory and now prepare for a tough conference schedule. “It’s been a while since we won at home, and it just feels great to have that victory,” said senior Mike Malone, who had a career day for Western’s offense. “Winning this game was big. I feel as though I played hard but it was a team effort. We couldn’t have done it if we didn’t play together.” Tied at 20 in the fourth quarter, Malone ran 4 yards for a Catamount touchdown at the 9:47 mark, giving The Cats the lead for good. The tailback finished his monumental day with a career high 105 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. The Catamounts’ last win came last year against Eastern Kentucky (20-17) on September 16. The recent win snapped WCU’s 12-game losing streak and put some new life into the team headed into next week’s SoCon opener against Georgia Southern. “I am very excited for our players and for our program. This was a big win for us and boosted our confidence a little more,” said WCU head coach Kent Briggs, who moved to 6-0 all time in home openers. “We’ve had a rough three weeks and we definitely needed this win tonight.”Following Malone’s fourth quarter touchdown, the Blue Hose (1-3) were unable to get anything done on offense and were forced to punt with 7:03 remaining in the contest. The Catamounts managed the clock well as they put together a six-minute drive that led them downfield for a one-yard rushing touchdown run from senior quarterback Todd Spitzer which put the game away.Spitzer rebounded from his rough game in Athens by playing exceptionally well for the Catamounts behind center against Presbyterian. The Greer, South Carolina native finished the game 19-of-31 with one touchdown pass and a rushing touchdown. “Todd (Spitzer) came through real well for us tonight. He moved the ball and moved the team downfield real well. He came through when it counted and did what was needed to win,” said Briggs.Defensively, Western was led by sophomore safety Darrell Gray with eight unassisted tackles, including one for a loss. Senior linebacker Mordy Ornguze finished with seven total tackles, six solo, and a fumble recovery. On top of Spitzer’s and Malone’s performances in the game, other Catamounts played well offensively. Sophomore Marquel Pittman was one of eight Catamounts who reeled-in passes. Pittman caught seven balls and finished with a total of 107 receiving yards. Redshirt sophomore Marcus Brown caught the lone touchdown pass of the game in the second quarter, which was a 16-yard bomb from Spitzer. “The team’s performance tonight was great. I think we came out and played with a lot of heart and really stuck by each other. Offensively we had a few missed big plays that if we would have connected on, we then we could have really opened the game up. I think the all-around performance from our guys was great,” said Spitzer.After the Catamounts took their first drive down field for 71 yards and capped it off with Malone’s first of two touchdown runs on the day, the Blue Hose offense was held to three-and-out on their first possession. On the Blue Hose punt, Catamount senior Carlton Bailey dropped the punt back in WCU territory, and it was recovered by Presbyterian. This set up first-and-goal for the Hose on the WCU eight-yard line. The defense stepped it up a notch and held Presbyterian to a field goal on the possession making it 7-3.”We really played well in the fourth quarter. It’s all about the fourth quarter and we didn’t quit. That is what we prepare for all week long in practice,” said Malone. The Catamounts’ second possession was highlighted by a 42-yard pass from Spitzer to Pittman. The drive ended with sophomore Jonathan Parsons kicking his first of two made field goals on the day, making it 10-3. After Brown’s touchdown reception, the Catamounts took a 17-6 lead and the Blue Hose tried to score right before the halftime break. However, with 30 seconds left in the half, Catamount sophomore Antoine George intercepted Presbyterian quarterback Grayson Mullins’ pass in the end zone. The interception was the first of the season for the Catamounts, who took an eleven point advantage into the locker room.Following the break, the Blue Hose had an offensive spark as they drove down field for 82 yards in nine plays for a 30-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Tim Webb to Matt Quinn. The Presbyterian offense went for the two-point conversion, but it was unsuccessful. The WCU lead was cut to five at 17-12. Despite winning the game, the Catamounts did not play the prettiest football game as several scoring opportunities slipped away from Western. In the second quarter, Ornguze recovered a fumble with 3:30 left in the second quarter and ran it all the way to the end zone. The points would be taken off the board due to an illegal block in the back from junior defensive end Brandon Drumoogle. While Parsons, the reigning Southern Conference Special Teams Player of the Week, made two field goals from 30 and 34 yards out, he also missed two key field goals which would have extended the lead for WCU. He missed from 32 and 29 yards. “We have some improving to do and we’ll work on those things headed into next week, right now we just need to enjoy it. I am very happy for the guys and the coaching staff,” said Briggs. As the Catamounts come off of a huge victory against the Blue Hose, expect to see a motivated and pumped up football squad going into Statesboro, Georgia to begin SoCon play against The Eagles of Georgia Southern.