Cullowhee — WLOS - In a season where Western Carolina has had trouble finishing games, it seemed like everything was set-up for a different outcome. The 3-5 Catamounts had a 14-point halftime lead over The Citadel and the defense was making big plays, a glaring absence from most games thus far. However, in the second half the Cats reverted to old form as the two touchdown lead dissipated into the cool fall breeze and the Bulldogs took a 38-24 win back to Charleston.
The Citadel started back-up Brandon Rainey at quarterback and started off without a hitch. Rainey broke free on the games opening drive for a 43-yard TD scamper to stake the visitors to an early 7-0 lead.
After Western got on the board with a 23-yard Will Horton field goal, the defense made its first big play. Ronald Kent forced a fumble from the hands of Rainey and Michael Murphy scooped it up and sped 48-yards to put WCU in front 10-7.
The Citadel tied it up with a field goal of their own, but on the first play from scrimmage on the ensuing Catamounts drive Donnavan Spencer raced 75-yards to jump back out in front.
Late in the second quarter, the purple defense forced another fumble which the offense converted into a Spencer 2-yard TD dive. Western took the 24-10 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Then everything changed. EVERYTHING.
WCU was forced to punt on its opening possession of the second half, but Ian Berryman's kick was blocked by Sean-Thomas Faulkner and recovered at the Catamounts 28. Three plays later Clay Harris motored 19-yards off right tackle to cut the lead in half.
Later in the third quarter, the Bulldogs blocked another punt and recovered in the end zone to tie the game at 24. The visitors would tack on two more touchdowns while Western coughed up four fumbles as The Citadel spoiled homecoming, 38-24.
Spencer led the way for the Catamounts with 122 yards on 13 carries.
Western Carolina (3-6, 1-6 Southern Conference) wraps up SoCon play next Saturday with a visit from Wofford. The season finale is the following Saturday on the road in Chapel Hill to face the Tar Heels.