By Carey Phillips
Western Carolina set a school record for total offense and tied the mark for points Saturday in a 77-21 non-conference rout of Presbyterian.
A crowd of 11,776 at E.J. Whitmire Stadium/Bob waters Field saw the Catamounts (2-1) amass 766 yards of total offense. That eclipsed the total of 711 set against Lenoir-Rhyne in 1969. The 77 points match the total scored against West Virginia State in 2004.
Quarterback Carlos Davis was sidelined with a shoulder injury, but the offense didn’t miss a beat without him. Cole Gonzales stepped into the starting spot and completed 19 of 24 passes for 276 yards and three touchdowns. Three other Western players also threw TD passes.
Desmond Reid carried 12 times for 175 yards and two TDs.
Twelve different receivers caught passes. Raphael Williams had four receptions for 73 yards.
Nate Hayden completed 12 of 20 passes for 188 yards for the Blue Hose. Jalen Jones had four catches for 49 yards.
The Cats scored on 10 straight possessions spanning the second through fourth quarters.
The first period showed no sign of the offensive explosion that was to come. The only TD was a 2-yard run by Corey Reddick with 2:42 on the clock. It came after a 49-yard pass from Gonzales to Terrence Horne. Richard McCollum kicked the first of his 11 extra points for a 7-0 lead.
PC put together a 72-yard drive in eight plays for a 7-7 tie. Hayden scored on a 4-yard run and Parker Maddrey kicked the first of his three PATs with 14:15 to play in the first half.
A pair of TD runs by Reid helped the Cats take control. They came from 21 yards at the 8:58 mark and 58 yards with 5:17 on the clock for a 21-7 lead. The first was set up by a 24-yard pass from Gonzales to David White.
The margin was 28-7 at halftime after a 9-yard TD run by Gonzales with five seconds to go. Gonzales had completed passes of 15 yards to White and 21 yards to Williams on the previous two plays.
Horne returned the second half kickoff 37 yards to just past midfield. Reid ran for 15 yards before Gonzales tossed a 5-yard TD pass to Ajay Belanger making it 35-7 with 13:10 remaining in the third period.
Gonzales threw two more scoring passes in the quarter. They went to Horne from 6 yards at the 8:24 mark and White from 28 yards with 4:40 on the clock as the lead reached 49-7. Reddick started the first drive with a 17-yard run before Gonzales found Williams on a 44-yard pass. The second march was highlighted by Reid’s 41-yard run followed by an 18-yard pass from Gonzales to Toler Keigley.
The Blue Hose ended WCU’s 42-0 run with a 39-yard pass from Hayden to Dominic Kirby, leaving the deficit at 49-14 with 2:46 to play in the third period.
Parrish Metzger completed an 18-yard TD pass to De’Andre Tamarez as Western’s lead reached 56-14 with 1:17 remaining in the third period.
Brody Palhegyi, the third quarterback for the Cats, had a 30-yard run before completing a 20-yard scoring pass to Reddick upping the lead to 63-14 with 12:20 left in the game.
Tyler Wesley scored the final TD for PC with a 7-yard run at the 8:30 mark to trail 63-21.
Samuel Cornett became the fourth WCU quarterback to throw a TD pass as he found Tamarez from 36 yards out making it 70-21 with 6:58 on the clock.
Kason Lincke concluded the scoring with a 34-yard run at the 3:38 mark to account for the 77-21 final.
Skylin Thomas led Western with six tackles. Braydin Samuels and Alex Herriott were both in on eight for the Blue Hose.
14 First Downs 30
44-100 Rushes-Yds. 36-384
12-21-0 Passing 26-33-0
188 Passing Yds. 382
11-34.6 Punts-Avg. 4-40.2
3-0 Fumbles-Lost 0-0
3-35 Penalties-Yds. 10-115
PC 0 7 7 7 21
WCU 7 21 28 21 77