Trailing by 25 points, Western Carolina rallied back to within two scores early in the second half at The Citadel on Saturday afternoon. But penalties and a pair of turnovers proved to be too costly as the Bulldogs used an efficient rushing attack and pinpoint passing attack to pull away for the 35-17 victory over the Catamounts in Southern Conference action at Johnson Hagood Stadium.
Bulldog quarterback Brandon Rainey accounted for five touchdowns in the winning effort including three touchdown passes on just 3-of-5 passing while also rushing for a pair of one-yard scores. Graduate tailback Remus Bulmer hauled in two of Rainey’s scoring strikes for the Bulldogs.
WCU quarterback Tyrie Adams amassed nearly 300 total yards of offense on Saturday, finishing with 87 yards and his fourth rushing touchdown of the season on the ground while completing 22-of-30 passes for 210 yards and one passing score. Redshirt junior WR Daquan Patten just missed the century mark with nine receptions for 98 yards including a diving, highlight reel catch down to the four-yard line that set-up WCU’s third quarter score. Redshirt senior Nate Mullen caught five passes for 43 yards while D.J. Thorpe hauled in three passes.
Redshirt freshman Julian Pletz split the uprights from 32-yards out to open the game’s scoring with his first career field goal, capping WCU’s 11-play opening drive to give the Catamounts its only lead of the game. The Bulldogs responded, though, with touchdowns on their next four possessions including squeezing out an extra touch after a WCU personal foul penalty allowed The Citadel to recover an onside kick. One play after the trickery, Rainey found Raleigh Webb from 39 yards out for the 28-3 lead midway through the second quarter.
WCU trailed at halftime, 28-10, as Adams got the Catamounts on the board before the break, capping a 13-play drive with a four-yard rushing score.
After struggling with The Citadel’s triple-option attack in the first half, WCU’s defense stood tall after intermission. The Catamounts limited the Bulldogs to just 34 yards of offense in the third stanza, tallying three-consecutive stops including a missed field goal and a pair of punts in the frame.
Holding serve on the home squad’s opening possession of the second half, Adams and the Catamounts pulled back to within two scores as he found freshman Jaylin Young for a three-yard touchdown pass, his first career reception going for his first collegiate score. However, it was as close as WCU would get as two turnovers – a fumble by tailback Connell Young while fighting for extra yards and a second Adams interception – thwarted two would-be scoring drives with Rainey icing the game with a 17-yard scoring strike to Bulmer midway through the fourth quarter.
Rainey rushed for 87 yards with two touchdowns while Clay Harris rushed 24 times for a game-high 154 yards. Bulmer tallied 87 total yards including 53 yards rushing and 34 yards on two touchdown receptions.
Junior linebacker Ty Harris paced the Catamounts with 11 tackles including four solo hits and a tackle for loss, posting his first double-digit tackle effort of the season and the fifth of his WCU career. Trevor Childers was credited with seven stops while seniors John Brannon and Devarius Cortner posted six hits apiece. Defensive lineman Ricky Palao tallied a tackle for loss while Jarquavius Wortham and Torrion Stevenson combined on a third TFL for WCU.
Western Carolina remains on the road in the Palmetto State next week, traveling to Spartanburg, S.C., to face the Wofford Terriers next Saturday, Oct. 19 with a 1:30 pm kickoff.