Friday, October 20, 2023

Nationally-Ranked FCS Showdown Highlights Saturday Slate

The picturesque town of Cullowhee, North Carolina, will play host to a highly-anticipated Southern Conference football clash this Saturday when #8 Western Carolina welcomes its fierce rival, #3 Furman, to the hallowed grounds of E.J. Whitmire Stadium. The ESPN+ game will kick off at 2:30 p.m. and fans can expect an epic encounter as both teams come into the game with impressive national rankings. In what marks only the fourth game in their storied rivalry where both teams enter the arena with national rankings, this clash brings memories of the golden era of Catamount football. The last time Western Carolina and Furman shared the spotlight with numerical rankings by their names was in 1983 when the ninth-ranked Catamounts exacted sweet revenge by defeating their second-ranked rivals in the NCAA I-AA playoffs, a 14-7 triumph in Greenville. Western Carolina holds a 2-1 record in ranked matchups, boasting a perfect 1-0 record on their home turf.

The 2023 season has seen Western Carolina emerge as the Cinderella story, rising to a Top-10 ranking after a remarkable string of five consecutive wins. Leading the charge is running back Desmond Reid, whose 847 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns have made him a strong contender for All-American recognition. Quarterback Cole Gonzales, now in his sophomore season, has elevated his game with 1,532 passing yards and 14 touchdowns, establishing a potent connection with a dynamic receiving corps led by Censere Lee, boasting 421 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns.  On the other side, Furman entered the season as the preseason favorites in the Southern Conference and has lived up to the billing through the first six games. Running back Dominic Roberto, with 394 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns, and quarterback Tyler Huff, boasting 1,057 passing yards and 10 total touchdowns, anchor the Paladins' offense. The defense has excelled against the run, allowing a meager 3.1 yards per carry. However, the key to success this weekend for Furman lies in their secondary's ability to generate turnovers, currently tallying an impressive 7 interceptions.

East Carolina Gears Up to Face Charlotte in First-Ever Conference Matchup

East Carolina’s football team is set to face American Athletic Conference newcomer Charlotte on October 21. The game will kick off at 2 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN+. This will be Charlotte's first-ever encounter with an in-state conference opponent, setting the stage for a memorable showdown. East Carolina, led by fifth-year head coach Mike Houston, enters the game with a 1-5 overall record and a 0-2 mark in the AAC. In the Pirates’ last outing, they fell 31-10 to SMU, despite running 16 more offensive plays than their opponent. Mason Garcia led a pair of scoring drives, completing 12 of 26 passes for a career-high 155 yards and rushing for a team-best 38 yards on 12 carries. Wide receiver Chase Sowell emerged as a standout, delivering his second consecutive seven-catch game and a career-high 120 yards. Charlotte, with a 1-5 record and a 0-2 conference record, is coming off a 14-0 loss to Navy. The upcoming clash promises an exciting faceoff between the two teams as they each aim to secure a crucial first win in the American Athletic Conference this season.

Barton Football Set to Rebound Against Wingate in Homecoming Showdown

Barton is set to host Wingate in a crucial Homecoming matchup. The Bulldogs, who have a 47-3 record against undefeated and nationally-ranked Lenoir-Rhyne, are looking to maintain their stronghold in the Piedmont Division standings. Jordan Terrell, the school's all-time leading rusher, is just 12 yards away from reaching the 1,000-yard milestone for the third consecutive season. Terrell has been a standout for the Bulldogs, averaging 141.1 yards per game on the ground. Junior quarterback Jaquan Lynch has shown his prowess with 1,076 yards passing and a total of 16 touchdowns. The defensive charge for the Bulldogs is led by junior linebacker Shane Perry, who boasts a team-high 64 tackles. On the other hand, Wingate's football program has a remarkable track record, culminating in an 11-3 record last year and a spot in the 2022 NCAA Division II National Quarterfinals. Wingate holds the edge in the all-time series with Barton, leading 2-1. Barton College, as an Associate Member of the South Atlantic Conference until the end of the 2024 season, is under the guidance of fourth-year head coach Chip Hester, while Joe Reich serves as the Wingate Head Football Coach. The Homecoming showdown promises to be a thrilling match between Barton and Wingate, with both teams aiming to secure a pivotal victory in front of their passionate fans.