It happened nearly a year ago, but last season’s 39-31 triple-overtime loss to Georgia Southern is still fresh in the Mocs' minds. Quarterback Jacob Huesman and defensive tackle Derrick Lott remember it quite well.
And while both players turned in arguably the best performances of their respective careers, their memories of that October evening are rather gloomy.
The Mocs, who’d faced a 21-10 halftime deficit against the second-ranked Eagles, battled their way back in the third quarter, eventually taking a 24-21 advantage on Huesman’s 10-yard touchdown run. Georgia Southern kicker Alex Hank connected on 24-yard field goal midway through the final quarter, knotting things up to force overtime.
The three action-packed overtime periods that followed was a game in and of itself.
“Being in overtime, I remember how much we wanted it,” said Lott. “How much both teams wanted it and how much of a fight it was.”
The Eagles scored first. The Mocs answered. Chattanooga kicker Nick Pollard missed a 41-yard field goal attempt on the team’s next possession, but GSU quarterback Jerick McKinnon fumbled on the first play of the ensuing drive.
“Honestly, I think if it’d gone to another overtime I’d have died,” said Huesman, who totaled 272 yards and three touchdowns.
The Mocs were actually two yards shy of forcing that fatal fourth overtime, but Huesman, whose 170 yards on the ground set a new career high, was stuffed at the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-goal, sealing the eight-point win for Georgia Southern.
“It was a struggle, but I thought we persevered and hung with them,” Huesman said. “I was proud of our team, but that made it hurt just that much more.
“We’ve got a team full of competitors; guys who hate to lose. To lose a game hurts, and losing one in triple-overtime is just as bad, if not worse. Especially against a rival team like Georgia Southern.”
On Saturday afternoon, the Mocs will get their last chance at GSU, at least for the forceable future. Georgia Southern and Appalachian State — both of which are moving up to the Football Bowl Subdivision — will be members transitional members of the Sun Belt Conference next season, and thus not on the 2014 SoCon slate.
They’re not using that as extra motivation, though. The memories of the team’s last two losses to the Eagles, including a 28-27 setback in 2011, are more than enough.
“Myself personally, that’s something that I like to think about,” said Huesman, who moved into 10th place at UTC with 19 career touchdown passes two weeks ago against Austin Peay. “I’ve never liked losing at anything, and that feeling kind of motivates me to never experience that again. Any time we experience a loss, it’s the worst thing in the world. I kind of use that to say I never want to know that feeling again.”
For Lott, he’s just raring to go against another option team — any option team — and it just so happens the Eagles are first on the list.
“Option football is discipline football,” he said. “You’ve got to be in the right spot at the right time, you can’t miss a gap and you’ve got to cover your assignment. I’m actually excited to play an option team again. The last couple of those team we’ve played I’ve had pretty good games. This is the first one this year and I can’t wait.”
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.
Sign up for our email list to get your morning news delivered directly to your inbox. All we need is your email address.