CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- The Chattanooga Mocs (4-3/3-1) claimed a hard-fought 20-13 Southern Conference win over visiting Samford (5-3/3-3) at Finley Stadium. UTC's limited the Bulldogs to 259 yards in a defensive standoff.
The Mocs were the more opportunistic of the two offenses tonight. Samford held the home team to just 250 yards in what amounted to a battle of field position for much of the game.
Wes Dothard (Carrollton, Ga.) made a team-high 11 tackles to pace the UTC defense with one of the squad's eight tackles for loss. Davis Tull (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Zack Rayl (Englewood, Tenn.) each had five stops, while Tull added to his SoCon lead with his seventh and eighth sack of the year. Rayl had two-and-a-half total tackles for loss.
Durell Hill had a game-high 12 tackles for the Bulldogs who had seven tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Just one was a sack and that was by Nicholas Williams in the second quarter.
It was scoreless until Nick Pollard (Nashville, Tenn.) hit a 29-yard field goal with 12:21 left in the second quarter for the 3-0 lead. It capped a deliberate 13-play, 37-yard drive with 6:31 coming off the clock. The Mocs made it 10-0 on a Jacob Huesman (Chattanooga, Tenn.) plunge from a yard out on fourth-and-goal with 28 seconds left before intermission.
Naturally the score came after a defensive play. Gunner Miller (Chattanooga, Tenn.) intercepted an Andy Summerlin offering and returned it 34 yards to the Samford 39 to provide the Mocs offense with prime real estate.
Needing a big play, Samford got it in the return game. Kelsey Pope busted up the left sideline for 32 yards to put the ball on the UTC 49 with 20 seconds until the half. Summerlin found Jeremiaha Gates on back-to-back plays to get to the 35 setting up a 52-yard field goal attempt with two seconds remaining. Cameron Yaw stepped in and booted his career long to make it a one score game at the break.
The third quarter was much the same as the second for the Mocs. Pollard's 36-yarder and a 16-yard connection from Huesman to Marquis Green (Palmetto, Fla.) gave UTC a 20-3 lead heading into the final frame. But it was all Samford from there.
Yaw cut the lead to 14, 20-6, with a 47-yard boot with 12:13 to go. Fabian Truss capped an 83-yard drive with a one-yard dive with 3:35 left to cut the margin to 20-13. After a three-and-out for UTC, the Bulldogs made it interesting.
Pollard gave the defense a boost with a 49-yard punt that was fair caught by Riley Hawkins at the Samford 17. The Bulldogs would need to traverse 83 yards in less than two minutes to extend the game.
They tried. Summerlin dinked and dunked looking for a big play. Two plays after converting on fourth-and-four he found Pope on the left sideline for 19 yards. Pope wrestled Kadeem Wise (Lawrenceville, Ga.) to get the ball out of bounds at his own 49 with 20 seconds left.
After an incompletion on a desperation deep ball, senior defensive end Joshua Williams (Griffin, Ga.) chased Summerlin out of the pocket and nearly forced a turnover. Rather than a fumble, the official deemed Summerlin in a throwing motion marking third-and-10 at the Samford 49 for the Bulldogs with eight seconds to go.
A completion and a timeout set up a final play as just three seconds remained. Summerlin took the snap at the UTC 41 and lofted it toward the end zone. Sema'je Kendall (Huntsville, Ala.) elevated over the company of receivers and defenders to swat the ball out of play and secure the Mocs 20-13 triumph.
Huesman led the Mocs offense with 164 yards on 18 of 23 passing. He also carried the ball 23 times for 64 yards. Terrell Robinson (South Pittsburg, Tenn.) had a career-high nine receptions for 65 yards.
Truss paced the Bulldogs with 29 yards on 11 carries and one score. Summerlin completed 27 of 40 pass attempts for 191 yards and an interception. Pope led all receivers with 12 catches for 78 yards.
Samford's offense did the bulk of its damage in the final stanza. The Mocs held the Bulldogs to just 111 yards of total offense in the first 45 minutes. In the final 15, Samford accumulated 148 yards on 35 plays. It had just 32 plays combined in the first three periods.
Conversely, the Mocs offense had 231 of its 250 yards in the first three quarters. But UTC managed just eight fourth quarter plays gaining 19 yards.
Pollard was money on special teams for the Mocs. He hit both field goal attempts, had a touchback on the opening kickoff and averaged 44.5 yards per punt downing four inside the 20.
The Mocs return to Finley Stadium next Saturday hosting Georgia Southern. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. Video and audio broadcast links can be accessed through MocsVision via the football schedule page on GoMocs.com.
SAM - Cameron Yaw 52 yd Field Goal - 2/0:00/10-3
Drive: 3 plays, 14 yards, 0:20
Key Play(s): Kelsey Pope 32 yard kickoff return to UTC 49
UTC - Pollard 36 yd Field Goal - 3/10:12/13-3
Drive: 10 plays, 57 yards, 4:48
Key Play(s): 3/5/H43 - Huesman to J.J. Jackson for 35 yards
SAM - Yaw 47 yd Field Goal - 4/12:13/20-6
Drive: 12 plays, 43 yards, 3:27
Key Play(s): 3/1/V49 - Fabian Truss 3 yard run
SAM - Fabian Truss 1 yd Run (Yaw Kick) - 4/3:35/20-13
Drive: 13 plays, 83 yards, 4:49
Key Play(s): 3/8/V19 - Andy Summerlin passes 12 yards to Kelvin Clay