CHARLESTON, SC - The Citadel Bulldogs committed a season-high five turnovers to fall to No. 24 Western Carolina on Senior Day at Johnson Hagood Stadium on Saturday, 31-19.
The Citadel (5-4, 3-4 SoCon) rushed for 367 and controlled the line of scrimmage at times, but was only 2-of-5 on red zone chances, including a replay overturning a called-on-the-field Cam Jackson touchdown during a wild swing in the closing minutes of the first half.
A late touchdown drive and two long scoring plays sparked the Western Carolina (7-3, 5-2). WCU quarterback Tyrie Adams found Terryon Robinson on a 32-yard touchdown just before the half following the overturned score and Detrez Newsome rumbled 81 yards for another touchdown in the key strikes for the Catamount offense.
The Citadel outgained WCU, 420-386, but turnovers on their first and last possession in the red zone defined a tough home finale for one of the most successful classes in program history.
"We held it together well on defense and moved the ball well on offense, but the turnovers," Citadel head coach Brent Thompson said following the game. "We had some pretty good drives on offense, but again we couldn't put the ball in the end zone. This one hurts for the seniors. They played well enough to win today. We made it very tough on ourselves."
One place the Bulldogs created opportunities was on special teams. Jackson blocked two punts and was in the area of a third punt shanked off an up-man as The Citadel created opportunities in the kicking game.
WCU took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards in 10 plays to take a quick 7-0 lead. Adams found Connell Young for eight yards. The Catamounts overcame a bad snap and a would-be sack by Kailik Williams to march to the early advantage.
The Citadel moved the ball just into the WCU red zone its opening drive, but a fumble on their first snap inside the 20 on the snap was pounced on by the Catamounts' Ezavian Dunn to end the threat.
Defense and special team would help the Bulldogs tie the game early in the second quarter. After the defense held Western Carolina inside its own 3-yard line, senior Cam Jackson got a hand on an Ian Berryman punt to set up The Citadel at the WCU 25. A Dom Allen run set the Bulldogs up inside the five, where he found Keyonte Sessions in the back of the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7.
The Bulldogs rolled down the field to open the second half and tie the game at 17-17. Dom Allen's 26-yard touchdown run capped a 3-play, 67-yard drive – all on the ground.
Newsome answered back a play later for WCU, racing 81 yards for a touchdown on the first snap of the ensuing drive on the longest play the Bulldogs have allowed this season.
An interception ended another red zone possession for The Citadel, but Jonathan King kept the Catamounts backed up by wrapping up Newsome for a loss of eight on first down. The Bulldogs blocked the ensuing punt as Jackson drove the protector into Berryman's punt sending the ball out of the back of the end zone for a safety, cutting the lead to 31-16.
The Bulldogs, on a short field, had a chance to take advantage of a punt off an up man down 24-16, but Jordan Black and the Bulldog offense couldn't convert on fourth down.
Adams would put together a late drive to push the lead to 31-19 late in the game, finding Terryon Robinson for six yards on third down to extend the advantage.
The Bulldogs marched inside the WCU 5-yard line late, but an Allen pass was tipped and intercepted by linebacker Daniel Riddle to end any threat of a Citadel rally.
Newsome finished with 197 yards rushing on 24 carries and Adams threw for 133 yards and three touchdowns.
Linebacker Myles Pierce led the Bulldogs with seven tackles, 1.5 for loss. Riddle had 13 tackles for WCU.