Turnovers Costly as Football Falls at WCU 35-17


CULLOWHEE, N.C. -- Western Carolina pulled away in the second half and posted a 35-17 win over visiting Catawba on Saturday afternoon at Waters Field.  WCU quarterback Troy Mitchell threw for two touchdowns ran for a third to lead the Catamounts, who improve to 2-1.  The Catawba Indians fall to 1-1.

Mitchell went 16-of-27 through the air for 223 yards and his two scores.  He ran for 17 yards and a key score that gave WCU a 21-10 lead midway through the third quarter.  Darius Ramsey led the Catamount ground game with 56 yards on 11 carries.

Mike Sheehan (Wilmington, N.C./Laney HS) threw a pair of TD passes for the Indians, but was also intercepted twice.  He went 21-of-36 passing for 236 yards.  Gary Williams (Southport, N.C./S. Brunswick HS) was the favorite target, grabbing a career-high seven passes for 94 yards. 

The Catamounts went up 14-0 in the opening quarter, using a pair of long touchdown passes from Mitchell.  The first covered 44 yards to Spearman Robinson just five minutes into the contest.  Mitchell later found Willie Police for a 56-yard score at the 3:04 mark of the quarter.

Catawba rebounded after the early deficit and outplayed the Catamounts in the second quarter.  The Indian defense limited WCU to just 79 yards outside of the two long scoring plays. 

Early in the second quarter, Catawba cut its deficit in half as Williams made a diving catch on a throw from Sheehan that covered 20 yards and made it 14-7.  The Indians appeared to be marching for more points at the end of the half, but after a catch and run inside the WCU five, Tyler Hamilton (Charlotte, N.C./Vance HS) fumbled and the Catamounts ran out the final minute of the clock.

The Indians closed the gap to 14-10 on its first possession of the second half as Chad Hollandsworth (Kernersville, N.C./E. Forsyth HS) converted a 39-yard field goal.  WCU responded from there, scoring touchdowns on three of its next four possessions.

Mitchell ran in from 19 yards to make it 21-10 at the 7:58 mark of the third quarter.  Newsome added a pair of touchdown runs early in the fourth quarter, the second after a Catawba fumble in its in red zone, to make it 35-10 with 10:40 remaining.

Sheehan guided Catawba to one final score, hitting Carlos Tarrats (Jacksonville, Fla./Raines HS) from six yards out with 7:47 to play.  Trey Mashore (Woodleaf, N.C./W. Rowan HS) helped set up the score with a catch and run of 33 yards.

Catawba held a slight edge in total yardage, outgaining WCU 368 to 365.  The Catamounts held a 22-20 edge in first downs.

David Burgess (Morganton, N.C./Freedom HS) led the Indians on the ground with 52 yards on 13 carries.  Philip George (Columbia, S.C./Kenan HS/Coastal Carolina) had nine tackles, while Jason Taylor (Bahama, N.C./Northern HS) had a sack among his seven stops.

Catawba opens South Atlantic Conference play next Saturday as the Indians head to Newberry to face the Wolves at 6 p.m.

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