Chattanooga played what coach Russ Huesman referred to as his team’s most complete game of the season Saturday, delivering a 31-9 win over visiting Furman in front of a season-high 12,197 fans at Finley Stadium.
The Mocs’ defensive front was outstanding, recording a season-high six sacks and nine tackles for loss, while their ground game eclipsed the 200-yard mark for the fifth week in a row. Aside from a forgetful second-quarter, which featured three turnovers, Chattanooga (4-2, 2-1 SoCon) played pretty much error-free football.
“We knew this would be a tough game coming in, but I think our guys played hard, played well and we’re awfully proud of them,” Huesman said. “We had some big standout performances.”
Among them were defensive end Davis Tull’s 3.5-sack performance, and Keon Williams’ 101-yard, one-touchdown effort. Junior Nick Pollard, who’s been solid in the punting game all season long, connected on the team’s first field goal of the season, too.
“That ought to be the headline,” Huesman joked.
The Mocs jumped out in front early, finding the end zone on the the game’s opening series. Sophomore quarterback Jacob Huesman, who started a perfect 8-for-8 through the air, capped an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive with his 12-yard touchdown run.
Sophomore running back Kendrix Huitt added the squad’s second score, barreling into the end zone from three yards out and spotting UTC a 14-0 advantage with 13:29 left in the second quarter.
The defense delivered on the ensuing series, forcing a three-and-out, and the Mocs took over possession with a chance to go ahead by three scores.
That’s about the time things started to go south for Chattanooga.
On the opening play of the drive, Huesman lobbed one deep to tight end Faysal Shafaat, but the underthrown jump ball was intercepted by Paladins cornerback Austin Williams.
Following a 50-yard field goal from kicker Ray Early, UTC’s Chaz Moore coughed the ball up on the kick return. Fortunately for the Mocs, though, their defense held again, delivering a stop inside the red zone and forcing another Furman field goal.
Jacob Huesman and the Mocs’ offense finally got their hands back on the ball with 1:53 remaining in the first-half. By the one minute-mark, though, they’d already handed it back to the Paladins on another Jacob Huesman fumble.
“Those three turnovers right in a row could have killed us,” je said. “We could have shut it down and said we have to play tight because we couldn’t turn the ball over again, but that leads to playing scared and we don’t need to be doing that.
“Luckily at halftime we were able to calm down a little bit, come back out and overcome those turnovers.”
And that’s about the time things swung back in Chattanooga’s favor.
The Mocs stuck the ball in the end zone on their opening series of the third quarter as Huesman sprinted his way past the Paladins secondary for a 37-yard touchdown run, ending a nine-play, 82-yard drive.
Pollard’s third-quarter field goal — a 35-yarder — increased UTC’s lead to 24-6, and Williams added the finishing touches with his fourth-quarter touchdown run from one yard out. x
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.
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