Catamounts rejoicing in streak's end

Catamounts rejoicing in streak's end

October 30th, 2013 by John Frierson in Sports - College

The excitement was still in Mark Speir's voice Tuesday morning during the Southern Conference coaches' teleconference.

The second-year Western Carolina coach wasn't basking in the glow of a win over Michigan or a third straight Football Championship Subdivision national title -- things he experienced as an assistant at Appalachian State.

No, this was something much more mundane for most coaches and teams, but something powerful enough to send the Western Carolina students rushing onto the field in celebration.

WCU's Richard Sigmon kicked a 39-yard field goal in overtime last Saturday to lift the Catamounts to a 27-24 home win over Elon. That snapped a 26-game SoCon losing streak and a 33-game losing streak against Division I competition.

"The fans storming and then to be able to go in [the locker room] and all the hard work that these players have been doing and just preaching to these guys about staying with the vision and staying with the direction of the program, just to see it finally pay off, I was just so happy," Speir said Tuesday. "Overjoyed's the word for it."

The Catamounts' last SoCon and D-I win was a 24-13 victory at The Citadel on Oct. 2, 2010. WCU senior linebacker Courtland Carson was a freshman on that team and had to endure a lot of disappointing Saturdays before beating Elon.

"It feels like a dog that has been starved for years, and somebody took them on a long ride to a meat shop, showed them all the meat in the world and then told that dog to eat. That's what this feels like," Carson told the Asheville Citizen-Times after the game.

A memorable win probably deserves a memorable quote. Western Carolina's timing was good, too. The Catamounts are off this Saturday so they can enjoy the moment for a while before visiting Georgia Southern on Nov. 9.

Mocs' Hudson out

UTC wide receiver Tommy Hudson (8) plays in the game against Austin Peay at Finley Stadium.

Photo by Angela Lewis/Times Free Press.

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wide receiver Tommy Hudson is out for Saturday's game at Appalachian State with a concussion. Hudson hit his head on the Finley Stadium turf during last week's game against The Citadel and was motionless for about 30 seconds.

Hudson, who has 19 catches for 196 yards and is UTC's top punt returner, eventually walked off the field, but he did not return to the game. Mocs coach Russ Huesman said Hudson won't be cleared to play in time for Saturday's game. Cornerback Kadeem Wise handled The Citadel's punts after Hudson's injury and will return punts against the Mountaineers.

Huesman said cornerback Chaz Moore (concussion) is "definite" to play. Linebacker Gunner Miller (sprained hand, stinger) will play as well, as should defensive end Toyvian Brand (stinger). Running back Keon Williams (ankle) is improving but remains questionable.

Samford keeps rolling

In its sixth season in the SoCon, Samford stands alone at the top of the league standings heading into November. The Bulldogs (6-2, 4-0) are the only team without a loss in league play after handing Wofford (5-3, 4-1) its first SoCon defeat last week.

Samford coach Pat Sullivan said what most impressed him about the 34-27 victory at Wofford was how the Bulldogs overcame four turnovers. Wofford linebacker Alvin Scioneaux intercepted Andy Summerlin's first pass of the game and returned it for a touchdown.

"If you would have told me before we kicked off that we were going to turn the ball over four times against them and still win the ballgame, I'd have told you you were crazy," Sullivan said. "I think the difference in our football team this year, from a year ago ... is our guys kept hanging in there."

Extra points

UTC continues to lead the SoCon in scoring defense (17.6 points allowed per game) and total defense (313.2 yapg.). The Mocs are tied with Western Carolina for second in the league with 13 sacks, trailing Samford's 18. ... UTC is second in the SoCon in turnover margin at plus-3, while ASU is last at minues-3.

Contact John Frierson at jfrierson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him at twitter.com/MocsBeat.