Catamounts falter against rival Appalachian State

The stage was set for Western Carolina and Appalachian State to take the field Saturday afternoon at Kidd Brewer Stadium for the latest installment of the “Battle for the Old Mountain Jug.”

Both fan bases were out and the trash talking didn’t stop – even up to game time.

As the Appalachian State players were waiting in the stadium tunnel to run onto the field, players from both teams were jawing to one another.

But by halftime, Appalachian State was the only one talking.

Marcus Cox accounted for three first-half touchdowns (four total) on his way to setting the Appalachian State freshman single-game rushing record with 215 yards, breaking the mark of 207 yards set by Alan Atwater back in 2003.

The Mountaineers took a comfortable 31-7 lead into halftime and cruised to a 48-27 victory.

Catamount quarterback Eddie Sullivan led the Catamounts with 206 yards passing and three total touchdowns (two passing, one rushing).  He also threw two interceptions; one returned 37 yards by Karl Anderson for a touchdown on the opening series of the second half.

It was a frustrating afternoon all around for the Catamounts, but it didn’t start that way.  After Cox scored on Appalachian State’s opening possession, Western drove to the Mountaineer 14-yard line.  On the next play, quarterback Troy Mitchell fumbled the ball and not even the wind in the stadium could keep up the Catamount sails.

Mitchell left the game with a hip-pointer and did not return.

Sullivan tried to lead the Catamounts back the rest of the way, but the deficit was too much to overcome after his interception put Western down 38-7.

Karnorris Benson caught five passes against Appalachian State. Photo by Mark Haskett.

Karnorris Benson hauled in a touchdown pass for the fifth-straight game with a six-yard reception from Sullivan in the third quarter.  It was the 12th touchdown for Benson on the season, tying Eric Rasheed’s single-season record set in 1983.  Benson finished with five receptions for 24 yards.

Western Caroline (2-10, 1-7 SoCon) finished the year losers of three-straight and winless in Boone since 1984.  The Mountaineers are moving conferences and the old mountain jug will stay in Boone for a while.

The Catamounts won’t be hanging their heads high after another disappointing season and a lot of work is ahead.  Coach Mark Speir will have his hands full in the offseason, and the Catamounts will be looking to end their 21-straight road losses next season.

Boone wasn’t kind to the guys from Cullowhee, but the rivalry is by no means over.

Let’s just hope it will happen again sooner rather than later.