Cats Roughed Up By Dogs 45-16:The Cats Lose Their 12th in a Row, Falling to UGA

In fights between cats and dogs, the dogs usually win. It was the same result on Saturday as the #23 Georgia Bulldogs defeated the Western Carolina Catamounts 45-16 at Sanford Stadium in Athens. The Catamounts have lost 12 in a row from last season to now, which is the fourth longest losing streak in the nation among Division I schools. Despite playing neck-and-neck for much of the first half, the Bulldogs proved to be too much for the Catamounts as they outscored Western 21-7 in the second half to earn their second victory of the season. The Catamounts finished with a total of 201 yards on offense with 138 coming in the air, and 63 coming on the ground. Senior Mike Malone led the way in receiving for Western, pulling in four catches, but sophomore Marquel Pittman led the team in receiving yards for Western by pulling in three catches and 41 yards. Sophomore Willie Harper contributed to the running game, leading the team with 20 rushing yards. “I thought we played very well today, especially in the first half. I thought we did some good things offensively. We did not embarrass ourselves, we played with pride and played hard,” said Catamount head coach Kent Briggs. The Catamounts played their two quarterbacks, senior Todd Spitzer and sophomore Adam Hearns. Spitzer received the starting nod for WCU at the quarterback position and took most of the snaps for the purple and gold. He finished 6-for-10 with 16 yards passing. He helped carry the Catamounts down the field for a pair of scoring drives that resulted in field goals. “I think our performance today was good overall. We fought hard until the end of the game and did not give up. There are some things we need to improve on but I still think we played real well as a team,” said Spitzer. Hearns finished 10-of-14 with 122 yards in the air. He also contributed 18 yards rushing. In the final five minutes of the fourth quarter, Hearns led a nine-play drive that resulted in senior Mike Malone’s two yard rush across the goal line for Western’s only TD of the day. The touchdown was the first one Georgia has given up in the second half all season long. The Catamounts were playing without four defensive starters. Briggs believes that despite the defensive team’s injuries, the Catamounts kept their heads up and played hard. Despite the woes on defense, Western was led by sophomore Chris Collins, who finished with 10 tackles on the day, eight solo stops. Junior Quinton Phillips also contributed to Western’s defense as he recorded six tackles, five solo. “We were just short-handed. There were a couple of series where we played with just two tackles. We had to make a lot of adjustments in the game. It is kind of a scramble time for us,” said Briggs. In the first half, the Catamounts did not look intimidated at all by the Bulldogs. Trailing 3-0 in the first quarter, The Catamount defense forced their first turnover of the season as sophomore Gene Singletary blindsided UGA quarterback Matthew Stafford, causing him to cough up the football. A pile of Bulldogs and Catamounts fought for the loose ball. It was Catamount junior Meko Watson who came out of that pile with the football and gave WCU great field position at the UGA 14-yard line, silencing the rowdy crowd of 92,746 fans. Despite the incredible field position, the Catamounts could not get the ball into the end zone. Instead, it was junior kicker Jonathan Parsons who knotted the game at 3 apiece when he knocked a 29-yard field goal through the uprights. “We moved the ball well. We put some points on the board,” Spitzer said. “We got those points off field goals, but not touchdowns. If you were to turn those nine points into three touchdowns, then it’s a totally different game,” said Spitzer. In the second quarter, Georgia got on the board with their first touchdown of the game, pulling ahead 10-3. On the kickoff return, Malone took the ball 46 yards and gave Western great field position to start their drive. However, the Catamounts still could not get the ball in the end zone and settled for another field goal, this time from 40 yards out, which cut the deficit to four points. Trailing 17-9 with one minute remaining in the first half, Georgia went 65 yards in three plays to score a final touchdown just before the half, which put the Bulldogs in front 24-9 headed into the break. “They were able to move the ball down field and that hurt us. We did not put ourselves in the best position and they took advantage of it,” said Briggs. “If they hadn’t have had that last drive where they went down and scored just before the half, then I think, we would have felt pretty good about where we were in the first half.” In the second half, the scoring fest continued for Georgia as they scored on two of their first three possessions and eventually climbed to a 36-point advantage 45-9 before WCU scored their first and only touchdown of the game to make it 45-16. “We did not put ourselves in the best positions in the second half as Georgia came out and did some things offensively from which we could not recover. But I could not be more proud of our football team and the effort they put forward,” said Briggs.Briggs believes that the big thing that hurt his team in the game was the battle of field position. The Catamounts had only 11 first downs compared to Georgia’s 21. Western also received seven penalties in the game that resulted in a loss of 54 yards.”We had a couple of offensive penalties that resulted in a loss of field position. We lost the field position and they took advantage of it. You can’t play a team like Georgia and lose field position,” said Briggs. After a long three weeks, the team finally gets to open in front of their fans in Cullowhee with a game this Saturday against Presbyterian. “Everybody is excited and ready to go home for our first game. It’s been a long time coming and we are all ready to come and play in Cullowhee,” said Spitzer. The Catamounts season opening three game road trip has finally ended with losses to Alabama (52-6), Eastern Kentucky (45-21), and Georgia. Although they have not seen the results that they have wanted, the team has improved and is looking better each week. With Presbyterian coming to town, the Catamounts are ready to end their 12-game skid and play to start a new streak.