By Carey Phillips
Western Carolina’s football team will conclude the home portion of its schedule Saturday against Southern Conference tri-leader East Tennessee.
Kickoff time at E.J. Whitmire Stadium/Bob Waters Field is 2 p.m. The game will be available online on ESPN3.
The Buccaneers (8-1, 5-1) are tied with Mercer and UT-Chattanooga for first place in the league.
The Catamounts (3-6, 3-3) have won three in a row to move into fifth place.
ETSU’s Quay Holmes leads the conference in rushing at 120.8 yards per game.
WCU quarterback Rogan Wells is second in passing (258.7 yards) and total offense (318.4 yards).
His ETSU counterpart, Tyler Riddell, is third in passing (199.3 yards).
Western’s Raphael Williams tops the league in receptions per game (7.2) and receiving yards (86.2).
The Bucs’ Will Huzzle is third in receiving yards (74.8).
The Cats are yielding 41.6 points per game, which is last in the league. ETSU is second in scoring defense at 18.6 points. Western is eighth in total defense (450.8 yards).
WCU is second in total offense (446.8 yards), and the Bucs are third (431.6 yards). The Cats lead in passing offense (301.4 yards).
ETSU’s ride to the top of the league standings has not been easy. Other than a 48-21 win over Citadel, a team Western defeated 45-31, all of the games have been within seven points or less.
The Bucs topped Samford 55-48 in overtime. WCU lost to the Bulldogs 42-37.
ETSU edged Furman 17-13. Western rallied to down the Paladins 43-42 Saturday as Wells passed for 386 yards and ran for 91.
The Bucs even struggled against Wofford, which is winless in the conference, before prevailing 27-21. The Cats downed the Terriers 41-21.
ETSU defeated Virginia Military 27-20 last week.
The Bucs’ only conference loss was 21-16 to UT-Chattanooga. The Mocs rolled past Western 45-17.
ETSU opened the season with a 23-3 victory over Vanderbilt of the Southeastern Conference.
Coach Randy Sanders’ team uses a spread offense and 3-4 defense.
WCU holds a 25-24-1 edge in the series. The Bucs won 24-17 in the spring season.