WCU jacob Harris

Western Carolina’s Jacob Harris returns an interception 41 yards for the game’s first touchdown in Saturday’s 43-42 win over Furman.

By Carey Phillips

 

Western Carolina scored a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter Saturday to rally for a 43-42 Southern Conference football victory over Furman before 8,942 fans at E.J. Whitmire Stadium/Bob Waters Field.

Rogan Wells completed 22 of 32 passes for the Catamounts (3-6, 3-3), who took over sole possession of fifth place in the league with their third straight win. He also led the team in rushing with 91 yards in 13 carries.

Kenny Benjamin caught five passes for 126 yards. Calvin Jones and Raphael Williams also had five receptions for 69 and 42 yards, respectively.

Dominac Roberto had a big day for the Paladins with 196 yards and four TDs in 24 carries.

Hamp Sisson completed 17 of 26 passes for 102 yards, Joshua Harris had five catches for 44 yards.

Furman was threatening to extend a 42-31 lead when WCU’s defense, which had allowed TD’s on six of the previous seven possessions, stopped Roberto for a yard on fourth-and-2 to take possession at the 30.

Wells engineered an 11-play, 70-yard drive that ended on a 1-yard run by T.J. Jones with 10:19 left in the game. A conversion pass failed leaving the deficit 42-37.

On the first play after the Paladins’ initial punt of the game, Wells found Benjamin wide open at midfield for what turned into an 85-yard TD pass putting the Cats up 43-42 at the 6:41 mark. Another conversion pass failed.

Furman made a critical mistake later in the game when Dejuan Bell fumbled after a 28-yard punt return and Western’s Micah Nelson recovered at the 37.

The Paladins had one more chance, but Alex Lepvreau’s 62-yard field goal attempt was short on the game’s final play.

The Cats’ defense struck first as Jacob Harris intercepted Sisson’s pass and had a 41-yard interception return for a TD on the game’s third play. Richard McCollum kicked the first of his four extra points for a 7-0 lead with just 46 seconds elapsed.

Furman answered with a 73-yard drive in 10 plays, sparked by Roberto’s 45-yard run. His 3-yard run and the first of Timmy Bleekrode’s six extra points tied it 7-7 with 9:26 to go in the first quarter.

Wells’ 54-yard pass to Terrence Horne helped set up a first-and-goal at the 1. However, a personal foul penalty moved the ball back and forced WCU to settle for McCollum’s 32-yard field goal and a 10-7 edge with 7:12 to play in the opening period.

Roberto’s 3-yard TD run put the Paladins up 14-10 with 13:48 left in the half.

Wells completed passes of 21 and 24 yards to Calvin Jones and 18 yards to Williams before a 5-yard TD pass to Owen Cosenke for a 17-14 advantage at the 10:42 mark.

Aided by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and Roberto’s 18-yard run, Furman regained the lead at 21-17 with 6:10 on the clock.

The Paladins got the ball right back when T.J. Jones fumbled with Bryce McCormick recovering at the Western 28. Roberto had a 23-yard run ahead of Sisson’s 2-yard TD pass to Devin Abrams extending the margin to 28-17 at the 4:10 mark.

Wells had an 11-yard run and completed passes of 24 yards to Benjamin and 32 yards to Daquan Patten in a 12-play, 83-yard drive. T.J. Jones’ 1-yard TD run with 18 seconds on the clock narrowed the gap to 28-24 and completed a wild second quarter in which the teams combined for 35 points.

Western needed just four plays of the second half to regain the lead at 31-28. Wells scored on a 33-yard run after completing a 25-yard pass to Jakobe Quillen with 13:21 on the clock.

Bleekrode missed a 40-yard field goal, but Furman got the ball back when Hugh Ryan picked off Wells’ pass and had a 25-yard return. Roberto’s 35-yard TD run on the next play put his team up 35-31 with 5:36 to play in the third quarter.

The Cats were backed up to their 1 after a mishandled kickoff. They drove to the 35 before Calvin Jones fumbled with Dimarcus Clay recovering for the Paladins. Wayne Anderson had an 24-yard run, and Roberto scored on an 11-yard run extending the lead to 42-31 with 3:10 to go in the third period.

Wells had his pass intercepted by McCormick at the WCU 39, but Furman was unable to take advantage setting the stage for Western’s comeback.

Kareem Taylor was in on 15 tackles for the Cats. Harris followed with 11, and Ivan Hogans had 10.

Travis Blackshear led the Paladins with nine tackles.

 

Furman      WCU

24  First Downs  21

52-316  Rushes-Yds.  36-152

17-28-1  Passing  22-33-2

102  Passing Yds.  386

2-46  Punts-Avg.  2-38.5

1-1  Fumbles-Lost  3-2

1-5  Penalties-Yds.  4-45

Furman 7 21 14 0  42

WCU 10 14 7 12  43