Calvin jones WCU

Western Carolina’s Calvin Jones (3) was named special teams player of the week in the Southern Conference after having 213 yards on kickoff returns in Saturday’s loss to East Tennessee. 

By Carey Phillips


After a wild first half that ended in a 35-35 tie, East Tennessee kept Western Carolina off the scoreboard in the second half Saturday and claimed a 56-35 Southern Conference football victory in front of 10,348 fans at E.J. Whitmire Stadium/Bob Waters Field.

The teams combined for 1,080 yards of total offense, but the Buccaneers used a pair of goal-line stands in the second half to secure the win.

ETSU relied on the one-two rushing punch of Jacob Saylors and Quay Holmes, who both scored three touchdowns. Saylors gained 266 yards in 19 carries, and Homes netted 215 yards in 30 attempts.

The Catamounts (3-7, 3-4) did most of their damage through the air as Rogan Wells completed 29 of 42 passes for 385 yards and four TDs. Raphael Williams had five catches for 138 yards, and Calvin Jones’ seven receptions went for 92 yards.

T.J. Jones was WCU’s top rusher with 62 yards in 10 tries.

Quarterback Tyler Riddell scored from a yard out with 4:42 to play in the third quarter giving the Bucs the lead for good at 42-35. It capped an 80-yard drive in seven plays, including a 54-yard run by Saylors.

Western threatened to draw even with a first-and-goal at the 9. However, on fourth down from the 2, Wells was stopped for a 2-yard loss.

ETSU covered 96 yards in 12 plays, including runs of 29 yards by Saylors and 19 yards by Holmes. Saylors’ 1-yard TD run built the margin to 49-35 with 9:26 left in the game.

Once again the Cats had a first-and-goal. This time it was at the 2 after a 25-yard throwback pass from T.J. Jones to Wells. On third down, Tyree Robinson intercepted Wells’ pass in the end zone.

Holmes’ 41-yard TD run at the 1:04 mark put the game away.

WCU turned the ball over on its first possession as T.J. Jones fumbled after catching a pass from Wells, with Rodney Wright recovering at the Cats’ 35.

Saylors’ TD run on the next play and the first of Tyler Keltner’s eight extra points put the Bucs up 7-0 with 12:29 to play in the first quarter.

WCU quickly tied it 7-7 with 10:52 on the clock on a 51-yard pass from Wells to Jakobe Quillen and the first of Richard McCollum’s five PATs.

ETSU was forced to punt but got the ball back on the next play as DiAndre Davis picked off Wells’ pass and had an 18-yard return to the 6. Holmes scored on the next play putting his team up 14-7 at the 8:49 mark.

A 33-yard run by Wells was the highlight of a 79-yard, 10-play drive. It ended with an 8-yard pass from Wells to T.J. Jones for a 14-14 tie with five minutes to go in the opening period.

Saylors’ 25-yard run sparked a 75-yard march in seven plays as the Bucs went up 21-14 on Holmes’ 2-yard run at the 1:06 mark.

Western tied it 21-21 just 12 seconds later when Calvin Jones, who was named conference special teams player of the week, returned the kickoff 95 yards.

On the first play after a punt, Wells completed a 54-yard pass to Williams giving the Cats their first lead, 28-21, with 13:51 remaining in the half.

A 28-yard pass from Riddell to Jawan Martin ended a 65-yard drive in six plays as ETSU tied it 28-28 with 11:05 on the clock.

Western countered with a 76-yard march in eight plays to take a 35-28 lead on Wells’ 15-yard pass to Owen Cosenke at the 7:08 mark.

The halftime score was 35-35 after Saylors’ 14-yard run with 1:03 on the clock.

The Cats had a chance to take the lead, but Paxton Robertson missed a 41-yard field goal with seven seconds left.

Jacob Harris and Kareem Taylor were both in on 12 tackles for WCU.

Donovan Manuel led the Bucs with 15 tackles, including 11 solos.


ETSU          WCU

27   First Downs   24

54-461   Rushes-Yds.   29-134

6-16-0   Passing   30-43-2

75   Passing Yds.   410

5-39   Punts-Avg.   3-42.7

1-0   Fumbles-Lost   3-1

3-30   Penalties-Yds.   3-34

ETSU   21  14  7  14   56

WCU   21  14  0 0    35