Tuesday, October 21, 2014

SoCon Football Power Rankings

Welcome to this week's Purple & Gold SoCon Power Rankings for the week beginning 10-20-14. The power rankings are published weekly on Tuesday.

The Southern Conference will feature four conference games this week, and no out of conference contests. The first of Saturday's games kicks off at 12:00 pm as Mercer travels to Chattanooga.  Next up, it's VMI at Wofford and Samford at Furman, both games have starting times at 1:30 pm.  The final game is The Citadel at Western Carolina with a 2 pm kickoff.

Lots of possibilities for a shake up this week, but if both Chattanooga and Western Carolina end the day with victories, it sets up a huge game in Cullowhee the following week, with first place on the line, that game will not lock up a championship, but it certainly would put the winning team in the driver's seat and master of their own destiny.

1. (1)  Chattanooga 
Last Game: UTC 34 - The Citadel 14
Record: 4-3 (3-0 SoCon)  - Up next - Mercer, 5-3 (1-3 SoCon)
The Mocs are coming off a surprisingly easy win in Charleston and face a determined Mercer Bear team that will probably upset someone this season, so it's best not to look past them to next week's Western Carolina game. 

2. (3)  Western Carolina 
Last Game: WCU  35 - Mercer  21
Record: 5-2 (3-0 SoCon)  - Up next - The Citadel, 2-5  (0-2 SoCon)
The Cats remained tied for first place in the conference as they picked up their second road conference win of the season defeating Mercer,  In the Catamounts Homecoming game they face a Bulldog team that was somewhat embarrassed by the Mocs last week, so the same advice applies, don't look past the Dogs to the Chattanooga game next week.  

3. (4)  Wofford 
Last Game: Wofford 24 - Samford 20                                                                                                               Record: 4-3 (2-1 SoCon) - Up next - VMI, 1-7 (0-3 SoCon)                                                                                 Still in the race for a conference championship, the Terriers face last place VMI in Spartanburg.  It should be an easy pick up, but VMI is going to surprise someone.  
4. (2)  Samford 
Last Game:  Samford 20  -   Wofford 24
Record: 3-3 (2-2 SoCon) - Up next - Furman, 2-5  (1-1 SoCon)
The Bulldogs dropped a close game to Wofford last Saturday, but combined with the loss to Chattanooga, puts the Bulldogs back to the wall in this week's game facing Wofford.  Three SoCon losses would most likely eliminate any chances of a repeat conference crown in Birmingham. 

5. (5)  The Citadel 
Last Game: The Citadel 14 - Chattanooga 34
Record: 2-5 (0-2 SoCon)  - Up next - at Western Carolina, 5-2 (3-0 SoCon)
Much like Samford, these Bulldogs backs are to the wall as well, finding themselves facing the first place Catamounts.  With 2 conference losses already, a third will leaving the Bulldogs playing only for pride.
6. (6)  Furman 
Last Game: Furman 10 - South Carolina 41
Record: 2-4 (2-1 SoCon)  - Up next - Samford, 3-3  (2-2)
With only one conference loss, the Paladins are still in the thick of the conference race, with a win over the Bulldogs, they can pretty much eliminate the Bulldogs from the race.  
7. (7)  Mercer 
Last Game: Mercer 21 - Western Carolina 35
Record: 5-3 (1-3 SoCon) - Up next - at Chattanooga, 4-3 (0-0 SoCon)           
With three conference losses, the Bears have basically been eliminated from any prospects for a shot at the league championship and have a very big challenge this week.  After playing #1 Western Carolina last week, they travel to Chattanooga to meet the other #1 team, Chattanooga Mocs.  
8. (8)  Virginia Military Institute 
Last Game: VMI 41 - Gardner-Webb 47
Record: 1-7 (0-4 SoCon) - Up next - at Wofford, 4-3 (2-1 SoCon)                                                                         This week the Keydets travel to Spartanburg to play an upbeat Terrier team, fresh off a victory over Samford,  This may not be the week, but the Keydets will get that conference victory.  

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Football - The Citadel

This week, the Citadel Bulldogs leave the lowcountry of South Carolina, and travel to the magnificent "Valley of the Lilies" to meet the Catamounts in one of the most scenic locations in college football, E.J. Whitmire Stadium. 

The Bulldogs hold a 21-15-1 all time record with the Cats and are currently in the midst of a 3 game winning streak over Western CarolinaWestern's last victory in the series was in 2010 at Charleston where the Cats picked up a 24-13 win over the Dogs. Due to a scheduling change in the SoCon with the addition of Mercer and VMI, the Bulldogs play in Cullowhee for the second consecutive season. In games played in Cullowhee, the Cats trail the Dogs, 9-10.

The Bulldogs are a dangerous team. While the Citadel is 0-2 in the conference with losses to Wofford and Chattanooga, they do run the dreaded triple option offense. The triple option traditionally has given the Catamounts a great deal of difficulty to defend. Combine that fact with the situation that the Bulldogs are coming off a somewhat humiliating loss to Chattanooga in Charleston, by a final score of 34-14. This leads us to believe the Bulldogs will have the incentive to come to Cullowhee with something to prove, not only to the Catamounts, but the entire conference as well.  What better way than to knock off one of the two teams sitting in first place?

The Citadel currently sits in second place in the SoCon in total offense, averaging 388.3 yards per game, and are in first place in rushing offense, picking up 307.1 of those yards on the ground. \ Quarterback Aaron Miller leads the Bulldogs in their rushing attack and averages 91.3 yards per game, good enough for second place in the SoCon. Tyler Renew is second in rushing on the roster with a 55 yard average per game.

When: October 25th, 2014 at 2:00 pm (EST)

Where: Bob Waters Field at E.J. Whitmire Stadium, Cullowhee, NC

Their coach: Mike Houston - Houston led Lenoir-Rhyne to the NCAA Division II national championship game last season, and was named the 24th head football coach of The Citadel on January 9th 2014. In his last three seasons as the head coach at Lenoir-Rhyne, Houston led the Bears to three consecutive South Atlantic Conference championships, including a school-record 13 wins to earn his third-straight SAC Coach of the Year honor. Houston also was named the Don Hansen Super Region II Coach of the Year in 2013.

Last year’s record: 5-7 overall, 4-4 Southern Conference

Last Season's Game vs. The Citadel: September 14, 2014 - Within seven points, late in the fourth quarter, the WCU defense stiffened to force a Bulldog three- and-out, giving the ball back to the offense with a chance to pull even. However, an intentional grounding penalty put WCU in a difficult fourth-and-long situation. On fourth down, Mitchell scrambled from the pocket after his initial progression, keeping the play alive with his feet. His offering deflected off his intended receiver, Benson, and was intercepted by The Citadel's Julian Baxter inside the final three minutes. The visitors were able to run out the clock to preserve the victory.

Offensive Formation: Triple Option - With the departure of GSU, the Cats will now only face two in conference teams that runs the triple option, Wofford & The Citadel.

2014 Statistics:
Scoring:  24.7 points per game
Rushing Offense: 307.1 yards per game
TDs rushing:  17
Passing Offense: 81.1 yards per game
TDs passing:  5
Total Offense:  388.3 per game
Fumbles-Lost:  19 - 5
Penalties-Yards:  40 - 377  (48 yards per game)
On-side kicks:  0 - 1
3rd Down Conversions:  48 of 102  (47.6%)
4th Down Conversions:     6 of 17  (35.3%)
Field Goals - Attempts:   7 of 8
Red-Zone Scores:  27 of 29
Red-Zone Touchdowns:  21 of 29

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Saturday's SoCon Football Round-up (10-18-14)

The two top SoCon teams both took home victories, however Samford's hopes for a second straight SoCon championship took a big hit at the hands of "never give up" Wofford. The Citadel's hopes of contending also were probably smashed as well by Chattanooga. Here's how Saturday's games went.

Chattanooga at the Citadel: The Mocs blew out to a 31-0 first half lead over the Bulldogs of The Citadel and never looked bask as they easily handled the Dogs 34-14.  The Mocs rolled up 478 total yard vs. only 236 for the Bulldogs.  Interestingly, the Mocs out-rushed the Citadel 325 to 198 yards.  The Mocs dominated the time of possession, 34:50 to 25:20 for the Bulldogs.

Purple & Gold's pick was Chattanooga win, 24-21 - the final score was Chattanooga 34 - the Citadel 14

Western Carolina at Mercer:  The Cats traveled to Mercer for the first time Saturday, and put to rest any doubt they are a contender in the race for a SoCon championship, as they rolled over the Bears 35-21. Troy Mitchell connected with Spearman Robinson on three of his touchdown passes, as Mitchell went 13 of 18 for 194 yards and Robinson had seven catches for 108 yards.

Purple & Gold's pick was Western Carolina wins, 35-17 - the final score was Western Carolina 35 - Mercer 21

Wofford at Samford:  In a back and forth game, Wofford's quarterback Michael Weimer scored with 4:34 left in the game to seal a win over the Samford Bulldogs in Birmingham, 24-21.   While the Bulldogs won most of the statistical categories, the Terrier won where is counts, the final score.

Purple & Gold's pick was Bulldogs win, 35-28 - the final score was Wofford 24 - Samford 20

Gardner-Webb at VMI:   The Keydets dropped a heartbreaker in double overtime to the Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs, 47-14.  Gardner -Webb was up 31-13 in the third quarter, as the Keydets' Al Cobb mounted a comeback, throwing three unanswered touchdown passes for VMI,  Tied 34 all at the end of regulation - both team scored touchdowns in the first overtime period, increasing the score to 41 all, then in the second overtime period, VMI's field goal attempt missed, then the Bulldogs Kenny Cook pulled in a 25 yard pass from Lucas Beatty for the win.

Purple & Gold's pick was GWU wins, 24-14 - the final score was GWU 47 - VMI  41

Furman at South Carolina:   The Paladins traveled to Columbia on Saturday and came away with a 41-10 loss to the Gamecocks, but a $250,000 check from SC made the ride home a little easier.

 Purple & Gold's pick was South Carolina wins, 35-17 - the final score was SC 41 -   Furman 10

This week:  4-1  (overall 18-7)

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P&G's selection of the WCU Player of the Game - Spearman Robinson

           Robinson's second TD of the game

This week's Purple & Gold Catamount Player of the Game for the victory over the Mercer Bears is Spearman Robinson.

Robinson hauled in a total of seven receptions on the day for 108 yards and three of the Catamount's four receptions for touchdowns.

In the first quarter Robinson pulled in a 33 yard reception from Troy Mitchell for his first touchdown of the day.

It was the third quarter before he scored again, this time a three yard pass from Mitchell, increasing the score to 28-14 Catamounts.

Robinson's final score came in the forth quarter, at the 12:07 mark as he received his longest touchdown pass of of the day, 42 yards.

All told, Robinson had seven receptions for a total of 108 yards.

Purple & Gold congratulates Spearman on his selection as the Catamount Player of the Game

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Catamounts cruise to a 35-21 win over Mercer

Karnorris Benson about to receive a 39 yard touchdown pass
      from Terryon Robinson                        
The Catamounts took advantage of two of Mercer’s turnovers as they cruised to a 35-21 victory in their first trip to Mercer University Stadium.

With the victory, the Cats remain tied for first place in the Southern Conference standings with Chattanooga at 3-0 in the season.

In their first offensive drive of the game, Mercer took over on their own 9-yard line. Then on second down, Mercer tailback Alex Lakes was hit and the ball popped loose. Catamount defensive back Jaleel Lorquet scooped it up and returned it 10 yards for for the first touchdown of the game and the Cats never looked back.

Quarterback Troy Mitchell showing flashes of himself before his injury at Presbyterian, connected with Spearman Robinson on three touchdown passes. Mitchell's third touchdown pass, a 42-yarder to Robinson, put the game out of reach for the Catamounts at 35-13, with about 12 minutes remaining. Mitchell finished the game with 13 of 18 passes for 194 yards. Spearman Robinson finished with seven catches for a total of 108 yards.

“Our defense played great all night. They really only gave up seven points all night,” Catamount head coach Mark Speir said after the game. “They created some big turnovers and scored on one.”

The Cats, now 3-0 in conference play, return to Cullowhee next week to meet the Citadel Bulldogs, which lost to Chattanooga today by a final score of 34-14. The Cats and Mocs are currently tied for the league lead.

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Gameday in Macon

Courtesy WCU Athletic Media Relations

Friday, October 17, 2014

Western at Mercer, a last look

This weekend, in the hopes of boosting the spirit of their fans and team to a fever pitch, the Mercer Bears want their fans to show up wearing all black. To further make the statement, the football team will  also wear their black-on-black uniforms, in what is being billed as a "Black Out" to the Mercer faithful.

After rolling over winless Ohio Valley Conference foe Austin Peay last Saturday, the Bears are ready for what might be their biggest game played to date in Macon, as they meet league leading Western Carolina. They'll need all that and much more to handle the Catamounts.  With two conference losses already, Mercer needs a victory Saturday for any hope to stay in contention for a conference championship.

"They are very impressive on both the offensive and defensive sides of the football" said Mercer head coach Bobby Lamb. "It all starts with Troy Mitchell, he's a special player that has done an outstanding job. Of the quarterbacks in our league that I've seen on tape, he's the best one. He's really a dual-threat guy, who excels with his legs and can really throw on the run as well."

The Catamounts enter the game with an overall record of 4-2 and are 2-0 the Southern Conference, and currently tied with Chattanooga for first place in the conference standing. Coming off a 26-14 victory over Wofford last Saturday, the Cats are averaging 31 points per game and 377.3 yards of total offense. The Cats will also bring one of the league's best defenses to Macon, as they have held opponents to just 20.7 points per game.

The Bears have already played two of the preseason favorites in the SoCon - Furman and Samford, losing by a combined total of only 8 points.   "They're a team that's playing really well; they're about No. 1 in every offensive statistic in the Southern Conference, and they're at the top on defense, too," said Catamount head coach Mark Speir about Mercer. "The guys down there know how to win. Coach (Bobby) Lamb is no stranger to the Southern Conference and to championship football. He's doing a great job down there."

Game time is 4 pm on Saturday, and can be seen on ESPN3.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Purple & Gold SoCon Football Picks - Week #8

We're now in the second half of the season, and for this week, we have three Southern Conference games and two out of conference contests on the agenda.

Furman travels to South Carolina to grab some quick dollars, and VMI will play the SoCon's newest wanna be member, Gardner-Webb. This will be the Runnin' Bulldogs fourth game against SoCon competition, and they are 1-2 so far.  

This weekend's conference games could shake up things a little, with both the league leaders, Western Carolina and Chattanooga involved in conference contests. Saturday,

October 18th, 2014 

Chattanooga at The Citadel
12:00 pm ET - Johnson Hagood Stadium (21,00) in Charleston, SC
Watch on the American Sports Network
Our Pick - Mocs win, 24-21

Furman at South Carolina 
12:00 pm ET - Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250) in Columbia, SC
Watch on SEC Network
Our Pick - South Carolina wins, 35-17

Gardner-Webb at VMI
1:30 pm ET - Foster Stadium (10,000) in Lexington, VA
Watch on SoCon Digital Network
Our Pick - Bulldogs win,  24-14

Wofford at Samford
3:00 pm ET - Seibert Stadium (6,700) in Birmingham, AL
Watch on SoCon Digital Network
Our Pick - Bulldogs win, 35-28

Western Carolina at Mercer
4:00 pm ET - Mercer University Stadium (10,200) in Macon, Ga
Watch on ESPN3
Out Pick - Western Carolina wins, 35-17

Last week: 5-0   (overall: 14-6)

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Head-to-Head Comparison (WCU / Mercer)

Head-to-Head Chart courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations

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SoCon Basketball Preseason Polls

Team (1st-Place Votes)    Total
1. Wofford (8)  80
2. Chattanooga (2)  70
3. ETSU  65
4. Mercer  54
5. UNCG  51
6. VMI  39
7. Western Carolina  38
8. Furman  24
9. The Citadel 16
10. Samford  13

Southern Conference Media Poll
Team (1st-Place Votes)    Total
1. Wofford (23)  252
2. Chattanooga (2)  226
3. ETSU  204
4. Mercer (1)  189
5. VMI  152
6. Western Carolina  121
7. UNCG  111
8. Furman  66
9. Samford  65
10. The Citadel  44

2014-15 Preseason All-Conference Team
James Sinclair, Western Carolina
Ashton Moore, The Citadel
Rashawn Rembert, ETSU
Stephen Croone, Furman
Tevon Saddler, UNCG
Casey Jones, Chattanooga
QJ Peterson, VMI
Karl Cochran, Wofford
Spencer Collins, Wofford
Lee Skinner, Wofford

2014-15 Preseason Player of the Year
Karl Cochran, Wofford

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Purple & Gold's SoCon Football Power Rankings

Welcome to this week's Purple & Gold SoCon Power Rankings for the week beginning 10-13-14. The power rankings are published weekly on Tuesday.

The Southern Conference will feature three conference games this week, along with two out of conference contests. The first is against South Carolina and the other is against Big South member Gardner-Webb.  This will be GWU's forth game against the SoCon teams and I think they are petitioning for conference membership.  The Bulldogs are 1-2 thus far against SoCon competition.

Either or both Chattanooga and Western Carolina have the opportunity to move to a 3-0 conference record in games that each will probably be projected to win. However, a slip-up by either team will give sole possession of first place to the other team, should they win their game.  Now, on to the rankings.

1. (1)  Chattanooga 
Last Game: UTC 10 - Tennessee 45
Record: 3-3 (2-0 SoCon)  - Up next - at The Citadel, 2-4 (0-1 SoCon)
The Mocs are coming off a loss against Tennessee, which was expected, and should be ready to take some frustrations out on The Citadel. In a big game for both teams, the Mocs need to win to remain in first place, while the Citadel can ill afford a second conference loss, which would probably dash thoughts of a SoCon first place finish. 

2. (2)  Samford 
Last Game: Bye
Record: 3-2 (2-1 SoCon) - Up next - Wofford, 3-3 (1-1 SoCon)
The Bulldogs are still in contention for a first place end of season finish, but like the other Bulldogs can ill afford a second conference loss.  Wofford finds itself in the same position as the Citadel, and Samford, they also have one loss.  

3. (3)  Western Carolina 
Last Game: WCU 26 - Wofford 14
Record: 4-2 (2-0 SoCon)  - Up next - Mercer, 5-3  (1-2 SoCon)
The Cats got another monkey off their back last Saturday with win over a Wofford team that had a eight game win streak over the Catamounts.  Western needs the win to remain in contention for first place, and Mercer at two SoCon losses would be eliminated from contention for a championship with three losses, so big stakes for both teams.  

4. (5)  Wofford 
Last Game: Wofford 14 - Western Carolina 26
Record: 3-3 (1-1 SoCon) - Up next - at Samford, 3-2 (2-1 SoCon)                                                                                                                  The Terriers will hope to bounce back after their disappointing loss at the hands of Western Carolina, a win keeps them in contention, a loss may eliminate their championship hopes. Samford is in the same position, needing a win or setteling for second place at best.  

5. (6)  The Citadel 
Last Game: The Citadel 63 - Charlotte 56
Record: 2-4 (0-1 SoCon)  - Up next - Chattanooga, 3-3 (2-0 SoCon)
The Bulldogs will face Chattanooga, and a real challenge against the offensive prowess of the Mocs.  To win this game, the Bulldogs must find their defense they lost in Saturday's win over the 49ers.  
6. (4)  Furman 
Last Game: Bye
Record: 2-4 (2-1 SoCon)  - Up next - at South Carolina, 3-3
Coming off a bye weekend, the Paladins travel to South Carolina to meet the Gamecocks, this will be a tough outing for their new freshman quarterback.  
7. (7)  Mercer 
Last Game: Mercer 49 - Austin Peay 21
Record: 5-2 (1-2 SoCon) - Up next - Western Carolina, 4-2 (2-0 SoCon)           
As we said last week, the Bears continue to surprise skeptics. Not that their win over Austin Peay was a surprise, however the margin of victory over the Ohio Valley Conference school surprised many. The Bears are out to surprise skeptics again this week when the Catamounts visit Macon.  
8. (8)  Virginia Military Institute 
Last Game: VMI 14 - Navy 51 
Record: 1-6 (0-3 SoCon) - Up next - Gardner-Webb, 3-3                                                                                                  This week the Keydets face an old Big South foe, the Bulldogs of Gardner-Webb. This is the fourth Southern Conference opponent for the Dogs, who hope to even their record to 2-2 against SoCon foes at the expense of the Keydets.  

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Football - Mercer Bears

On October 18th, the Catamounts travel to Macon, Georgia to play their third Southern Conference game, their second conference road game, and the first football contest ever against one of the newest members of the conference, the Mercer Bears.

While the Bears are new to the conference, their head coach, Bobby Lamb, certainly is not new to the SoCon.  The Bear's 2013 season was the first for Lamb and the Bears in the modern era, and Mercer performed well, ending the season with very good 10-3 record, while going 6-2 in the Pioneer Conference and 8-0 at home.  So the Bear's fans expect wins in Macon, Georgia.

This season has been another year of firsts for the Bears.  It's Mercer's first season in the Southern Conference, their fist season with scholarship players, and their first time ever meeting the Catamounts on the football field. The Bears have exceeded the expectations this year of most SoCon fans and will bring in a very good 5-2 overall record to the game.

The Bears are 1-2 in the SoCon, picking up a home win over VMI, while dropping a very close loss to Furman in Macon by a final score of 25-20.  Mercer also had a very good showing on the road at Samford, as the Bulldogs held on to salvage a very slim three point win, 21-18. The Catamounts must realize only 8 points are the difference in meeting a 5-2 Mercer team, and a 7-0 team.  This team may be young, even younger that the Catamounts, but they are 11 - 1 in Macon and this team and coaches will expect to beat the Cats in Macon and are confident they can get the job done.

The Bears are led by sophomore quarterback John Ross, who has completed 82 of 138 pass attempts for 1264 yards (180.6 avg) this season, and has rushed for 236 yards, or 34 yards per game. Freshman running back Alex Lakes is the leading rusher for the Bears, rushing for 698 yards in 7 games for an average of 99.7 yards per game, followed by running back Payton Usher, with 257,  yards per game averaging 43 yards per game.   Junior wide receiver JT Palmer is Ross's favorite passing target this season with 30 receptions, for 379 yards, for an average of  54 yards per game.  Ross will also throw to the tight ends & running backs out of Lamb's pistol spread option offense.  Mercer leads the Southern Conference in total offense this season, thanks to a balanced attack that ranks among the league’s leaders in both passing and rushing.

When: October 18th, 2014 at 4:00 pm (EST)

Where: Mercer University Stadium, Macon, Georgia

Radio:  Catamount Sports Network

TV/Video:  ESPN3 

Series history: This is the first ever meeting between Western Carolina and Mercer on the football field.

Their coach: Bobby Lamb - Lamb enters his second season as head coach of the Bears. Lamb joined the Mercer coaching staff after nine seasons as head coach at Furman University and a 29-year overall relationship with the Paladins’ football program as a player, assistant coach and head coach.

Last year’s record: After a long absence, football returned to Macon in 2013, and the Bears completed their inaugural season in the modern era with a 10 - 2 overall record as a members of the Pioneer Football League. The Bears set a NCAA Division I record for wins as a start-up program claiming 10 victories in the University’s first season in 72 years.

Offensive FormationPistol

Defensive Formation: 3-4

Lettermen Returning/Lost: 71 / 15

Offensive starters - Returning/Lost: 11 / 0

Defensive starters - Returning/Lost: 11 / 0

Specialist Returning/Lost: 5 / 0

2014 Statistics: Scoring:
Rushing Offense: 1540 yards  (220 yards per game)
TDs rushing:  17
Passing Offense:  1417 yards  (202 yards per game)
TDs passing:  14
Total Offense: 2957 yards
Fumbles-Lost:  11 - 5
Penalties-Yards: 52 - 474 yards
3rd Down Conversions:  29 of 86 (34%)
4th Down Conversions: 8 of 14 (57%)
Field Goals - Attempts:  2 of 5 (33%)
Red-Zone Scores:  23 of 28 (82%)
Red-Zone Touchdowns:  21 of 28 975%)

Prediction:  WCU 35 - Mercer 21

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

P&G's selection of the WCU Player of the Game - Garrett Brown

Photo by Mark Haskett

Photo by Mark Haskett   

Purple & Gold's Catamount Player of the Game for the victory over the Wofford Terriers is Garrett Brown.  

Brown guided the Catamounts on a grueling 12-play, 71-yard scoring drive, rushing for 29 yards while successfully consuming over seven minutes of the game clock to seal the victory for the Catamounts.

Brown led the Catamount offense with 67 yards rushing and was presented the Game Ball by WCU head coach Mark Speirs after the game.

Garrett with the game ball

Purple & Gold congratulates Garrett on his selection as the Catamount Player of the Game.

Saturday's SoCon Football Round-up (10-11-14)

Wofford at Western Carolina: In the only conference game of the weekend, the Catamounts surprised not only Wofford, but most of the Southern Conference with huge home win over the Wofford Terriers, to tie Chattanooga for the conference lead at 2-0.  .

The Catamount victory ends an eight-game losing skid to Wofford, and is the first home victory over the Terriers since 2005. The Catamount defensive unit held the FCS's third-best rushing attack to a season-low 270 yards, and limited the Terriers to 273 yards of total offense and just 14 points in the game, both of which are season lows for Wofford's potent rushing attack.

During the game, the Cats ran back the game opening kick-off, scored a safety, and recovered a Wofford fumble inside the five-yard line, as well as block a field goal attempt. With an injured starting quarterback, the Cats really pulled together for a total team win.

-Purple & Gold's pick was Catamonts win 21-14 - the final score was Catamounts 26 - Wofford  14

Charlotte at The Citadel or defense takes a vacation:  In a game of 119 combined points and 1,368 yards between the two teams, two defensive teams took the back seat to their offensive counterparts in a 63-58 win for the Bulldogs over the visiting 49ers.  The 119 combined points were the most in both school's history,  while the 56 points scored by Charlotte is the most posted by a Citadel opponent in a loss in the Bulldog's record books.

-Purple & Gold's pick was Bulldogs win 28-17 - the final score was The Citadel 63 - Charlotte 56.

VMI at Navy:  Navy broke their three game losing streak with a 54-14 pouncing of visiting VMI. Navy finished the game with 432 yards total offense, including 350 rushing, while their defense dominated the over matched Keydets, holding them to four first downs and 86 yards in the first half. The loss was VMI's fourth in a row, and the Keydets have now allowed 300 points in their last seven games.

-Purple & Gold's pick was Navy wins 42-14 - the final score was Navy 51 - VMI 14.

Chattanooga at Tennessee:  The Volunteers also broke a three game losing streak against a Southern Conference opponent, league leading Chattanooga, 45-10.   The Mocs allowed 123 yards rushing and 217 in the air for 340 total yards, while rushing for 105 yard and passing for only 86 giving them 201 total yards.

-Purple & Gold's pick was Tennessee wins 38-14 - the final score was  Tennessee 45 - Chattanooga 10

Austin Peay at Mercer: Mercer quarterback John Russ threw for three touchdowns and Alex Lakes ran for two more as the Bears dominated OVC's Austin Peay 49-21.  Russ was 10 of 13 for 179 yards passing, including touchdowns passes Tee Mitchell,  Avery Ward and  JT Palmer. Backup Michael Haynes threw a 5-yard score to Derek Owings. Lakes scored on two 12-yard runs and gained 98 yards on 13 carries.

-Purple & Gold's pick was Bears win 35-10 - the final score was Mercer 49 - Austin Peay 21

Last week: 5-0   (overall:  14-6)

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Video: Football Highlights - Western over Wofford

Video Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Purple & Gold SoCon Football Picks - Week #7

We're halfway through the season and only one Southern Conference game is on the agenda this weekend. Not a lot will change in the conference standings this week as a result of that game, but one of the two will be tied with Chattanooga at 2-0 for the conference lead. There's several interesting out of conference games for SoCon fans to feast on as well.

The Wofford at Western Carolina game is the only SoCon contest this week and the game can be seen on ESPN3. The Charlotte 49ers will make the trip to Charleston to kick off the day's activity with The Citadel and can be viewed on the SoCon Digital Network.  Another interesting game has VMI traveling to Navy which can be seen on the CBS Sports Network, Chattanooga travels to Tennessee and can be seen on the SEC Network.  The final game Austin Peay of the Ohio Valley Conference, travels to Mercer, which will be shown on ESPN3.

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

Charlotte at The Citadel
2:00 pm ET - Johnson Hagood Stadium (21,00) in Charleston, SC
Our pick - Bulldogs win 28-17

VMI at Navy
3:30 pm ET - Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (34,000) in Annapolis, MD
Our pick - Navy wins 42-14

Wofford at Western Carolina
3:30 pm ET - E.J .Whitmire Stadium (13,742) in Cullowhee, NC
Our pick - Catamonts win 21-14

Chattanooga at Tennesse
4:00 pm ET - Neyland Stadium (102,455) in  Knoxville, TN
Our pick - Tennessee wins 38-14

Austin Peay at Mercer
4:00 pm ET - Moye Complex (10,200) in Macon, GA
Our pick  - Bears win 35-10

Last week: 3-2  (overall:  9-6)

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

WCU 2-Deep Roster vs. Wofford

Courtesy WCU Athletic Media Relations

Purple & Gold's SoCon Football Power Rankings

Welcome to this week's Purple & Gold's SoCon Power Rankings for the week beginning 10-6-14. The power ranking are published weekly on Tuesday.

The SoCon will feature only one conference encounter this week, when Wofford travels to Western Carolina.  There will be four out of conference games: Charlotte at The Citadel; VMI at Navy; Chattanooga at Tennessee; and Austin Peay at Mercer.  Two SoCon teams will have bye weekends, Furman and Samford.

1. (1)  Chattanooga 
Last Game: UTC 55 - VMI 7
Record: 3-2 (2-0 SoCon)  - Up next - at Tennessee (2-3)
The Mocs are coming off a another big win with their victory over VMI. While the Mocs are the class of the SoCon, they may have. a little more difficulty with this opponent, the Tennessee Volunteers.    

2. (2)  Samford 
Last Game: Safmord 21 - Mercer 18
Record: 3-2 (2-1 SoCon) - Up next - Bye
The Bulldogs win over Mercer keeps them in the hunt for the SoCon title, and this bye week will give the Bulldogs an opporutnity to rest, heal and prepare for The Citadel.  

3. (3)  Western Carolina 
Last Game: WCU 14 - Presbyterian 19
Record: 3-2 (1-0 SoCon)  - Up next - Wofford  (3-2)
The Cats dropped a very winnable game to the Blue Hose last week due to turnovers and have one of the most important games of the season facing them this Saturday against the Wofford Terriers.  A win confirms the loss against the Blue Hose was a fluke, a loss could be disheartening to this young team.  

4. (6)  Furman 
Last Game: Furman 31 - Coastal Carolina 37
Record: 2-4 (2-1 SoCon)  - Up next - Bye
The Paladins almost pulled off the upset of the season with their new freshman quarterback.  They get the week off to rest, heal and prepare for their trip to meet the South Carolina Gamecocks.
5. (5)  Wofford 
Last Game: Wofford 17 - The Citadel 13
Record: 3-2 (1-0 SoCon) - Up next - at Western Carolina (3-2)                                                                                                                       The Terriers held on to secure their 15 game winning streak over The Citadel last Saturday, and will face another tough battle this week in Cullowhee, where the same type game saving defensive effort by Wofford secured a win for the Terriers last season.  
6. (4)  The Citadel 
Last Game: The Citadel 13 - Wofford 17
Record: 1-4 (0-1 SoCon)  - Up next - Charlotte (3-3)
 The Bulldogs will face the Charlotte 49ers in Charleston after a heartbreaking loss to Wofford last Saturday.  The Bulldogs failed to convert for score in the controversial last play of the game in Spartanburg. Will the loss to their rival dishearten the Dogs, or has it made them mad as hell and want revenge on somebody? 
7. (7)  Mercer 
Last Game: Mercer 18 - Samford  21
Record: 4-2 (1-2 SoCon) - Up next - Austin Peay (0-5) 
                             The Bears continue to surprise skeptics, and really challenged the Samford Bulldogs in last Saturday's game.  The Bears return home this week to play Austin Peay of the Ohio Valley Conference.  
8. (8)  Virginia Military Institute 
Last Game: VMI 7 - Chattanooga 55
Record: 1-5 (0-3 SoCon) - Up next - at Navy (2-4)                                                                                                         The road ahead for the Keydets doesn't get any easier, as they will travel to Navy this week.