CULLOWHEE, N.C. — This time Western Carolina didn’t collapse. This time the streak finally came to an end.
A week after blowing a 28-point fourth-quarter lead against Georgia Southern, the Catamounts cruised past the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, 27-7, in Southern Conference football Saturday at Whitmire Stadium. That snapped a 20-game string of league losses.
The SoCon win is the first for Western Carolina (3-7, 1-5) since it beat Wofford 24-0 on Nov. 5, 2005.
“It’s been a long time coming,” WCU senior left guard James Singletary said. “I remembered how it felt, and I wanted to get back to that feeling.”
The Mocs (1-8, 0-5), meanwhile, have lost seven straight games — all by at least 20 points — and with three tough games remaining could be headed toward the first 11-loss season in school history.
Contributed photo by Mark Haskett, WCU Public Relations
Chattanooga QB Jare Gault fumbles at the UTC 25-yard line, forced by Western Carolina's Adrian McLeod. It was one of five Mocs turnovers in the 27-7 loss.
“We didn’t coach good enough. We didn’t play good enough,” said Mocs coach Rodney Allison, who was informed on Oct. 21 that he won’t be back next season. “The defense for the most part played good enough to keep us in it ... but we were bad on offense.”
The Mocs finished with 178 yards of total offense and were 2-for-15 in turning third downs into firsts, and they committed five turnovers. UTC practiced just four times between the Oct. 18 loss to Elon and Saturday, but Allison said that wasn’t a factor in the Mocs’ miscues.
“It’s the same mistakes we’ve made all year,” he said. “It’s not doing what you’re supposed to do at receiver, at quarterback, at offensive line. It’s just the continual mistakes that we’ve seen all year long that have cost us.
“They have not improved, we have not coached them well enough to improve and I give credit to Western Carolina, but we were inept offensively.”
Saturday’s game was the sixth this season in which UTC was held to a touchdown or less. Cornerback Raeshon Ball gave the Mocs their only points when he scored on a 41-yard interception return with 3:51 to play in the third quarter.
Ball’s first interception of the season cut the lead to 13-7 and put the Mocs right back in the game despite almost no offensive production and more mishaps in the punting game. The return also shined the light on Allison’s decision on the Mocs’ first possession of the third quarter to go for it on fourth-and-6 at the WCU 16-yard line.
Quarterback Sloan Allison, who replaced starter Jare Gault at halftime, was sacked for a 12-yard loss on the play.
“After you watched us play in the first half, how many chances did you think we were going to get to get touchdowns? That’s the reason I went for it,” Coach Allison said.
Gault was 8-for-15 passing for 57 yards and had a fumble in the first half, and Sloan Allison was 5-for-19 for 44 yards, with three interceptions and a fumble, in the second half. Running back Erroll Wynn had 22 carries for a season-high 95 yards, but the Mocs were never able to put more than one or two good plays together on a drive.
“Defensively, we played a tremendous game,” first-year WCU coach Dennis Wagner said.
In the first quarter, a bad snap in punt formation gave the Catamounts a first down at the UTC 4, and on the next play quarterback Zack Jaynes hit Adam Hears in the end zone for a touchdown and a 7-0 Western Carolina lead. Blake Bostic kicked two field goals in the second quarter to give the Catamounts a 13-0 lead at the half.
Jeff Lloyd had a punt blocked late in the third quarter that led to the first of two fourth-quarter Andrerius Thomas touchdown catches that put the game away for the Catamounts.
Quarterback Zack Jaynes led Western Carolina with 146 yards and three touchdowns passing and 62 yards rushing. The Catamounts had five drives start at the UTC 26 or closer and scored touchdowns on three of them.
John Frierson is in his fifth year at the Times Free Press and fifth year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...