Chattanooga defense pounds Paladins, 13-3
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC Athletics) — The Chattanooga Mocs football team controlled the ball for nearly 40 minutes and held Furman to just 157 yards of total offense to secure its third-straight Southern Conference victory, 13-3, on a rainy Homecoming Saturday afternoon inside Finley Stadium.
Chattanooga nearly doubled up the Paladins in time of possession (39:48-20:12) on its way to improving to 5-3 overall and 4-1 in conference play. Furman drops back-to-back games falling to 4-4 overall and 2-3 in SoCon action.
“Defensively, that’s as good as you can ask for. I mean 157 yards? We shot ourselves in the foot offensively a few times,” said head coach Rusty Wright.
“We moved the football all day, but again, crazy things happen this time of the year. You have to play the best you can and figure it out on Saturday.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
Chattanooga received the game’s opening kick and marched 75 yards down the field in just seven plays to take an early 7-0 lead, taking up 4:42 of time. Tyrell Price set up a two-yard touchdown run from backfield partner Ailym Ford after breaking off a 42-yarder down the right sideline.
After the opening score, the game hit a stalemate throughout the first half as the score stayed 7-0 at the break. The two teams traded interceptions with both occurring deep in each other’s territories. Starting quarterback Cole Copeland saw his pass picked off in the endzone while Furman’s slinger Jace Wilson was intercepted by Jerrell Lawson at the five.
The second half was held without a touchdown from both sides as the Paladins and Mocs settled for three-pointers on three occasions. Furman reached the redzone midway through the third, but the Chattanooga defense stood tall and forced a 24-yard field goal to preserve a 7-3 lead with 5:58 left in the quarter. The defense has allowed just eight touchdowns on 21 entries inside its 20 this season.
UTC struggled to find its grove on the offensive side of the ball, however, found a way to put back-to-back scoring drives that each resulted in field goals. The pair of drives combined to go 25 plays and 95 yards while eating up a heavy 13:46 off the clock. Aaron Sears knocked through 40 and 38-yard field goals, the latter coming with 5:57 left in the game, to clinch the 13-3 win for the hosts.
BY THE NUMBERS
Chattanooga controlled the clock for much of the game and amassed a whopping 39:48 time of possession total. The offense silently put together 418 yards of total offense led by 245 yards on the ground and 173 through the air. UTC’s defense limited Furman to just 157 yards of offense which includes a lowly 47 yard passing total.
Price (110) and Ford (108, TD) each eclipsed 100 yards rushing while Ford surpassed 2,000 career rushing yards. Starting quarterback Cole Copeland went 13-of-20 for 146 yards and an interception in addition to 24 yards on the ground, featured by a couple first down pickups. Drayton Arnold saw action under center in a designed package and went 2-of-4 for 24 yards.
Reginald Henderson saw a team-high nine targets and hauled in four of them for a game-high 55 yards. Chris James (40) and Kanore McKinnon (37) both secured three passes to combine for 97 yards receiving. Eight different Mocs caught at least one pass during the victory.
The Chattanooga defense shined again in another dominant effort which saw 4.0 sacks, 7.0 TFLs, three pass breakups and one takeaway (INT). Jay Person led the team with eight total tackles, six solo, and racked up 2.0 sacks for a loss of seven yards. Kam Jones and Devonnsha Maxwell both finished with three total tacks and a sack a piece. Lawson secured his fifth interception of the season and recorded five total tackles, second-most for UTC.
RECORDS – CHATTANOOGA (5-3, 4-1) | FURMAN (4-4, 2-3)
SERIES – Furman leads the all-time series 30-21.
3 NOTES TO KNOW
– There was a moment of silence before the game in memory of Joe Lee Dunn. Dunn, a defensive innovator during his coaching career, was a Little All-America performer during his Mocs playing career before coaching as an assistant under Joe Morrison in the 70’s leading the program into the Southern Conference with titles in 1977, 1978 & 1979.
– 60-28-3 on Homecoming… 2-0 under Rusty Wright… 2-1 vs Furman… all three have come in the last eight years: 2013 (31-9) and 2017 (17-41) before today.
– 28.6 completion percentage…Paladins connected on just four of 14 pass attempts with an interception…lowest success rate (min. 10 att) since Sept. 1, 2016, a 1-13 (7.7%) by Shorter…worst by a DI opponent since 26.1 percent (6-23-2, 124 yards) by Liberty on Nov. 13, 2004.
Check out all the extra info at the notes link at the top of the story.
“We kept going forward and backwards, and that’s just how it was. To those guy’s credit, they just kept playing. Those mistakes were our mistakes and we would keep it going. You’ve got to figure out every Saturday how to get it done, and we did.” – Rusty Wright, head coach, on controlling the clock in the fourth quarter.
“I am so thankful for my O-line and my running back group for keeping it going. Every yard was earned and I’m so thankful to fight for each one with my guys. We’re tough, we’re physical and we’re going to run the rock when we need to.” – Ailym Ford, running back, on surpassing 2,000 career rushing yards.
Check out all we heard at the quotes link at the top of the story.
NEXT GAME – Chattanooga at Wofford, 1:30 p.m. ET | Nov. 6 | 2021 Schedule