Catamounts Fall to The Citadel on Heroes Day
Freshman running back Desmond Reid ran for a team-best 129 yards, and classmate quarterback Cole Gonzales threw for two touchdowns, but Western Carolina was unable to overcome a strong first half by The Citadel in a 34-21 loss to the Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon at Bob Waters Field/E.J. Whitmire Stadium.
The Citadel improves to 2-5 overall and 2-3 in the Southern Conference while WCU heads into its bye week at 3-5 and 1-4.
Reid, who earlier in the week was named to the Jerry Rice Award Watch List, carried the ball 13 times and had a long run of 36 yards. In his second collegiate start, Gonzales finished 13-for-25 for 159 yards and two touchdowns. Gonzales found eight different receivers with Censere Lee being the top receiver with three catches for 48 yards. Raphael Williams caught two passes for 17 yards and one touchdown while David White Jr. made the most of his one reception, a 33-yard touchdown catch.
Defensively, Hayward McQueen III made a career-high 12 tackles, seven of which were solo. The Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. native's previous career-best was eight tackles in last week's game at Furman. K.J. Milner, Va Lealaimatafao, and Ed Jones IV each had eight stops with Jones also recording one tackle for loss.
After the Catamounts came up empty on the opening drive of the game, The Citadel quarterback Graeson Underwood found the end zone from one yard out for the only score of the first quarter. Just over a minute into the second quarter, Underwood completed a 26-yard pass to Ricky Conway for a 14-0 lead. The Bulldogs added a 23-yard Colby Kintner field goal and a 32-yard pass from Underwood to Jay Graves-Billips with just over a minute remaining in the second quarter for a 24-0 lead. Gonzales' heave to the end zone as time expired was intercepted to end a late Catamount scoring threat.
The Bulldogs opened the second half with a Conway five-yard rush that capped a 16-play drive that ate just over nine minutes off the clock. Gonzales connected with White Jr. for a 33-yard pass to get the Catamounts on the board, 31-7. In the fourth quarter, Kintner added a 25-yard field goal with Gonzales finding Williams streaking across the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown pass. TJ Jones added a one-yard rushing touchdown with 1:17 remaining but The Citadel recovered the onside kickoff to end the late Catamount threat.
The Citadel outgained WCU 394-344 for the game, with the Catamounts accumulating 185 yards on the ground and 159 through the air. Of The Citadel's 394 yards, 312 came on the ground. The Bulldogs also controlled time of possession, holding onto the ball for nearly 43 minutes.
WCU returns to action in two weeks, hosting Wofford on Homecoming Weekend at Bob Waters Field/E.J. Whitmire Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.