Western Carolina University defeated the Mars Hill Lions on Saturday afternoon, part of Family Weekend.
With the win, WCU improves to 1-3 on the season. The heavy rain that came down all afternoon made for an uncomfortable game for both the players and the fans on the game day of family weekend.
The heavy rain lowered the attendance of the game, which was 7,490, but many Mars Hill fans made the hour drive to Cullowhee to cheer on the Lions. The rain and wet ball made for many missed tackles and turnovers.
With the win, WCU snaps a 13-game losing streak and extended the winning streak against Mars Hill to 15 straight wins, which dates back to 1945.
WCU scored in the first quarter for the first time this season with a 21-yard field goal by Richard Sigmon on the first offensive drive of the game. On this drive, WCU completed its first fourth down conversion of the year on a vital fourth and two-point conversion.
In the first quarter, Mars Hill fumbled on their own 1-yard line, which was recovered by WCU, leading to a one-yard touchdown run by Shaun Warren.
In the second quarter, defensive back Jaleel Lorquet sacked Mars Hill quarterback Trent Miller, putting them out of field goal range. On the very next play, the defense came up with a sack forcing a fumbled recovered by WCU.
At halftime WCU, was leading 10-0, and many Catamount fans left the game, sensing a win. The Pride of the Mountains Marching Band did not perform due to the inclement win.
After a 10-0 lead at halftime, WCU struggled in the third quarter as they fell behind 13-10.
At the start of the third quarter, Mars Hill running back Shaikel Davis ran a 29-yard touchdown to start a Mars Hill rally. Later in the quarter, Marquez Williams of Mars Hill ran a 2-yard touchdown, but the extra point was no good.
In the fourth quarter, Miller of Mars Hill connected with Dimitri Holmes for a 10-yard touchdown with a successful 2-point conversion, putting the game 21-10.
WCU responded on the next three drives with Troy Mitchell connecting with Karnorris Benson on each drive for a touchdown pass. The first touchdown pass was a career best pass for Mitchell, an 80-yard touchdown pass. The three touchdown passes elevated WCU past the Lions to win 30-23.
WCU’s Mitchell and Benson both recorded career high passing and receiving stats during the game. Mitchell threw for 350 yards on 35 attempts, both, which are career highs. Mitchell and Darius Ramsey combined for 135 yards rushing. Benson recorded 212 yards receiving and three touchdowns.
Mars Hill struggled to cover Benson in the fourth quarter that was running deep on all three touchdowns.
WCU was 2-2 converting in the red-zone but was 4-13 on third down conversions.
With a record of 1-3, WCU will travel to Alabama on Sept. 28 to play the Samford Bulldogs. This will be the second SoCon game of the season. WCU has a current 23-game losing streak in the SoCon.