CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- Junior Davis Tull (Knoxville, Tenn.) led another stout defensive effort by the Chattanooga Mocs (5-2/3-1) in a hard-fought 20-9 road win at Elon (2-6/1-3). Tull’s 24th career sack was part of a defensive stand that kept the Mocs opponent out of the endzone for the second straight week.
Tull was quick to credit former teammate Josh Williams (2009-12) whose record (23.5 sacks) he broke.
“It’s a pretty cool feeling knowing I passed J-Will, who kind of taught me the tricks of the trade,” Tull stated. “I learned everything from him and Coach (Marcus) West. It’s an awesome feeling.”
He continued talking about his defense, which has held back-to-back opponents to less than 10 points for the first time since 1990.
“It’s great for our defense to step up like that,” Tull added. “Our red-zone defense has not been where we’ve wanted it to be lately. We started out giving up too many touchdowns. Actually (Josh) Freeman and I were talking about it in the third quarter. We wanted to stay strong…we didn’t want to give up a touchdown today.”
It was a slugfest between two physical teams. The offenses combined for a little more than 600 yards (615) with neither defense giving up much. The difference was a few plays for the Mocs, especially on the ground.
After Elon opened the scoring with a 19-yard John Gallagher field goal, Chattanooga started on its own 25. Nine plays later, it was 7-3 on a Keon Williams (Chattanooga) four-yard plunge. That was all set up by a daring call from Head Coach Russ Huesman.
Three plays for nine yards opened the drive and the punt team took the field. Taharin Tyson (Alcoa, Tenn.) took the direct snap and broke free for a 24-yard gain to the Elon 42. Five plays later Williams scored and the Mocs never trailed again.
“We knew we had it,” Coach Huesman commented. “After the first time they lined up, we knew we had it. I was actually going to call it another time, but we went for it on fourth down. That’s scary stuff. That takes years off my life every time I call something like that. If it works, everybody is patting me on the back. If it doesn’t, I’m the dumbest person.
“I have not done anything like that (this year) because I thought our offense was in control of a lot of things, and I felt good about where our offense was going,” he added. “But we were struggling. I thought we needed a spark. Obviously the 24 yards on that really helped us.”
Williams tallied 118 yards on a career-high 24 carries and both of the Mocs touchdowns. He paced a rushing attack that topped 200 yards (223) for the sixth week in a row. It’s the first time for the program since 1991-92, an eight-game stretch over two seasons.
But it was the Mocs stellar defense that stole the headlines today. It limited the home team to just 293 yards, which is the fourth time this season it has kept a team under 300 yards.
The ensuing Elon possession stalled at the UTC 36. The Mocs started out on the nine after a 27-yard David Petroni punt. On the first play, Williams had the ball jarred loose. The defense came back out with Elon in prime real estate at the 13.
Four plays later, it was 7-6 as the Phoenix had to settle for a field goal. A common theme over the past two weeks.
“Holding them to three field goals again today was huge,” Coach Huesman said. “Our defense is playing really, really well, but we have to continue to get better. We are doing enough things defensively to win ball games.”
Chattanooga answered with a methodical drive after the turnover. It marched 65 yards in 12 plays taking up 5:59 of play clock. Williams’ two-yard run capped it, providing the 14-6 margin he and his squad took into halftime.
Nick Pollard (Nashville, Tenn.) sandwiched kicks of 32 and 19 yards around Gallagher’s third field goal (23) during a nine-point second half for the final score of 20-9.
UTC’s defensive front gave up just 56 yards (20 rushes) on the ground as the Phoenix turned to a short passing game to stave off its pressure on quarterback Mike Quinn. Quinn completed 31 of 44 attempts for 237 yards (7.65 yards per completion). Rasaun Rorie was his favorite target with nine catches for 71 yards.
Wes Dothard (Carrollton, Ga.) had a season-high 13 tackles with a tackle-for-loss. Tull had four tackles, including his sack. He forced a fumble on his record-breaking play that was recovered by Elon. Kadeem Wise (Lawrenceville, Ga.) and Zach McCarter (Chattanooga) each had nine stops.
Alexander Dawson led the Phoenix defense with 11 tackles. Dustin Ruff added 10 as each had a tackle for loss. Akeem Langham came up with five stops and a fumble recovery.
The headline at the end was Tull becoming the school’s career sack leader.
“He is such a good player,” Coach Huesman said. “We have to continue to find ways to not let the offense take him out of the game. I am not sure if they did or not today, but we have to find ways to keep that from happening.“
The Mocs are homeward bound hosting The Citadel next week. Kickoff is at 2 p.m., on what promises to be a glorious fall afternoon in the Scenic City. Tickets are available on GoMocs.com as well as by calling (423) 266-MOCS (6627).
Play - Quarter/Time/Score
Elon – John Gallagher 19 yard Field Goal - 1/2:20/0-3
Drive: 16 plays, 80 yards, 7:12
Key Play(s): 3/6/V44 – Mike Quinn hits Rasaun Rorie for 14 yards
Elon – Gallagher 30 yard Field Goal - 2/9:50/7-6
Drive: 4 plays, 0 yards, 1:41
Key Play(s): Elon recovers Keon Williams fumble at UTC 13
UTC – Williams 2 yard Rush (Pollard Kick) - 2/3:39/14-6
Drive: 12 plays, 65 yards, 5:51
Key Play(s): 3/3/H9 – Jacob Huesman runs for five yards
UTC – Pollard 32 yard Field Goal - 3/7:10/17-6
Drive: 11 plays, 65 yards, 4:54
Key Play(s): 4/1/50 – Huesman gets 3 yards up the middle
Elon – Gallagher 23 yard Field Goal - 3/3:24/17-9
Drive: 12 plays, 69 yards, 3:46
Key Play(s): 2/4/V44 – Quinn passes 22 yards to Justin Osborne
UTC – Pollard 19 yard Field Goal - 4/10:14/20-9
Drive: 16 plays, 74 yards, 8:10
Key Play(s): 4/1/H41 – Huesman 11 yards around right end