Western Carolina opens its eight-game Southern Conference football schedule on Saturday afternoon, traveling to Paladin Stadium in Greenville, S.C., to face chromatic conference-rival, Furman in the 2021 spring opener. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.
Western Carolina Catamounts vs Furman Paladins prediction and FCS spring football game preview.
Western Carolina vs Furman Broadcast
Date: Saturday, February 20
Game Time: 2:00 ET
Venue: Paladin Stadium, Greenville, SC
Saturday’s game will be broadcast on ESPN+ (paid subscription required) with the Furman production voiced by Mark Childress (pxp) and Bryant Lambert (analyst). Catamount Sports Network coverage begins at 1 p.m. with the Pepsi Tailgate Show. Fans across western North Carolina can hear the game locally on eight CSN affiliates: in Dillsboro on 95.3 WWOO; 105.7 FM and 540 AM WRGC “The River” in Sylva; 104.9 FM and 1050 AM WFSC in Franklin; WISE Sports Radio 1310 AM and 102.9 FM in Asheville; and 970 AM WYSE in Canton, with live streaming audio online at CatamountSports.com and WWCUFM.com.
Western Carolina was one of just four teams in the SoCon to play nonconference games during the fall portion of the 2020-21 football season. Two of the Catamounts’ three road games came against nationally-ranked FBS competition including No. 22 Liberty and No. 17 North Carolina. Both Liberty and UNC boasted Top 20-ranked offenses – fifth at 537.2 yds/gm for the Tar Heels and 15th by the Flames at 482.7 yds/gm.
Two Catamounts earned preseason All-SoCon honors including linebacker Jayden Pauling – who missed the fall semester due to injury – with a first-team selection and senior linebacker Ty Harris with a second-team nod. Harris, in his third year as a starter, has 231 career tackles including 20 through the trio of games in the fall. Safety A.J. Rogers led the squad with 21 stops in the fall with transfer linebacker Willie Hampton (16 tackles) factoring among the team leaders. WCU’s defense forced nine turnovers in the fall with two directly leading to points on scoop-and-score fumble recoveries by Ricky Palao and Nigel Manns.
On offense, senior tailback Donnavan Spencer leads the Catamount ground attack with 1,548 career rushing yards and 14 touchdowns, adding 489 receiving yards and a pair of scores. WCU looks to a corps of five quarterbacks entering the spring semester including graduate transfer Ryan Glover from Penn and junior college transfer in redshirt sophomore Carlos Davis. Those two new faces have been joined by the returning starter from the fall in junior Will Jones and freshmen Kason Lincke and Cade Snotherly.
Through the fall semester, WCU’s tight ends Owen Cosenke (8 catches, 104 yds) and Clayton Bardall (3 catches, 62 yds, TD) were among the squad’s top receiving threats. However, a group of newcomers including converted DB Reggie Jones, freshmen Calvin Jones, Dylan Abernathy, and Luke Sutton join veteran wideout Daquan Patten as downfield offensive threats.
WCU’s specialists include two kickers vying for the bulk of the placekicking duties including redshirt sophomore Richard McCollum and freshman Paxton Robertson, who kicked a career-long 52-yard field goal at EKU – the longest field goal in the FCS to date this season.
Furman returns to live game action for the first time since being ousted in the first round of the 2019 FCS playoffs by Austin Peay on Nov. 30, 2019 – 448 days between competitions. The Paladins took advantage of 15 practice days in the fall portion of the schedule, opting not to compete. Furman was the preseason favorite to win the conference this spring by the voting media and boasts a No. 8 and No. 15 ranking in the FCS Preseason Top 25 polls released by HERO Sports and Athlon, respectively.
Eight Paladins garnered a preseason All-SoCon selection as tailback Devin Wynn and outside linebacker Adrian Hope collected first-team plaudits. Earning second-team honors were quarterback Hamp Sisson, offensive tackle Jordan Harris, and center Evan Jumper, nose guard Cameron Coleman, inside linebacker Braden Gilby, and cornerback Travis Blackshear.
WCU travels to Samford in Birmingham, Ala., in week two with kickoff on Saturday, Feb. 27 set for Noon CT / 1 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ (paid subscription required) with no CSN coverage due to COVID protocols at Samford.
Western Carolina vs. Furman – All-Time Series History:
Western Carolina trails Furman in the all-time series that dates to 1971, 12-33-2, including a 6-17-1 overall mark in games played in Greenville, S.C. … the Catamounts have dropped FOUR-consecutive series meetings with the Paladins: in 2019 (H), 2018 (A), 2017 (H), and 2016 (A) on the heels of winning two-straight in 2014 (A) and 2015 (H);
Despite having two, back-to-back wins in the last six games in the head-to-head series, the Catamounts have suffered losses in 19 of the last 23 series meetings – and 21 of the last 25 overall dating back to 1995.
The Catamounts in Southern Conference Openers:
Since joining the SoCon in 1977 (member in 1976, although did not compete for the championship until 1977), Western Carolina is 23-20 overall in conference openers including a record of 15-5 at home in Cullowhee after the loss to Mercer in 2019 … WCU has won TWO of its last THREE league-opening games (vs. VMI in 2018, vs. #17 Samford in 2017);
The Catamounts are 8-15 in SoCon openers played on the road … WCU last won its SoCon opener on the road in 2014 with a 35-17 road win at Furman, snapping a string of eight-straight losses in the first SoCon game regardless of location … WCU has dropped its two most recent road league openers – at The Citadel (2015) and ETSU in Bristol (2016).
Furman Football Game Day Attendance Policies:
Saturday’s game is a pre-ticketed event … there will be no single-game or game day walk-up ticket sales. Only Furman football season tickets and those on the team pass lists will be admitted to the stadium;
For more information, visit FurmanPaladins.com;
There is a strict no tailgating policy at Paladin Stadium. Parking lots will open 60 minutes before the 2 p.m. kickoff;
The proper wearing of face coverings will be required once on-campus and inside the stadium at all times while also practicing at least six-feet of physical distancing.
SATURDAY’S BROADCAST INFORMATION:
Game 4: Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021 – 2 pm
Location: Greenville, S.C. (Paladin Stadium – 14,518)
Records: Western Carolina (0-3, 0-0 SoCon) at Furman (0-0, 0-0 SoCon)
Video: ESPN+ (PxP: Mark Childress; Analyst: Bryant Lambert)
Radio: Catamount Sports Network (PxP: Gary Ayers; Analyst: Daniel Hooker; Sideline (Greg McLamb)