The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team suffered another heartbreaking loss today. With a share of the Southern Conference championship still in reach, the Mocs (5-5, 4-3 SoCon) lost to No. 13 Wofford (8-2, 6-2 SoCon) 16-13 in overtime.
It is the second time in three weeks the Mocs have lost to a ranked team in overtime, falling to then-No. 2 Georgia Southern 38-31 in three extra periods on Oct. 27. All four the Chattanooga's FCS losses have come against ranked teams.
UTC trailed 10-3 at the break, but kept the Terriers off the board in the final 30 minutes of regulation. The Mocs tied the game at 10 with 2:18 in regulation when freshman Kendrix Huitt (Atlanta, Ga.) sprinted out to the right side from a yard out. That run capped off an 18-play, 72-yard drive, the longest in terms of plays in the Russ Huesman era at UTC. It chewed up over eight minutes of the final frame.
Wofford returned the ensuing kickoff 28 yards to its own 37, setting up good field position for a possible game-winning field goal. However, UTC only allowed the Terriers to get to midfield before forcing a punt and sending the game to overtime.
Wofford won the toss and elected to play defense. The Mocs moved the ball to the 10-yard line, but lost three yards on second-and-six. Freshman Jacob Huesman (Chattanooga, Tenn.) missed sophomore Tommy Hudson (Moultrie, Ga.) on a screen pass, but the play was inexplicably ruled a backwards lateral. The ball went out of bounds at the 14, leaving UTC with a third-and-nine. The Mocs could not convert and had to settle for a 27-yard field goal by sophomore Nick Pollard (Smyrna, Tenn.).
Wofford handed the ball off to senior All-American Eric Breitenstein four straight times to start their drive. After a first down, the Terriers had third-and-four from the nine. This time QB James Lawson kept it and rushed for seven yards to the two. Breitenstein capped off the game with a two-yard score on the next play.
The Mocs defense was stellar for most of the game. After allowing 156 yards in the first half, it only gave up 93 yards the rest of the game. Wofford came into today ranked No. 2 in the nation, averaging 372.9 rushing yards per contest, but were held to a season-low 215 yards on the ground.
Sophomore defensive end Davis Tull led the defense with seven tackles, including three for a loss. He leads the SoCon with 16.5 TFLs on the year, the fourth most in a season at UTC. Junior linebacker Wes Dothard had a team-high 10 stops, including one for a loss.
The Mocs outgained the Terriers 337-249 and had 234 yards in the air. Huesman led UTC with 22-31 passing for a season-high 229 yards. He also had 68 yards on 24 carries. Sophomore Terrell Robinson (South Pittsburg, Tenn.) had eight catches for 54 yards while Hudson finished with six catches for 73 yards. Huitt added 39 yards on 14 carries.
Wofford went up 10-0 early in the game with a field goal in the first quarter and a 16-play, 75-yard touchdown drive early in the second period. UTC got on the board in the second with a 26-yard field goal by freshman Henrique Ribeiro (Chattanooga, Tenn.).
The Mocs had two promising drives stall for no points in the second half. Their first possession of the third quarter ended in a missed 29-yard field goal by Ribeiro. The other came at the end of the third when UTC got to the Wofford 40, but was forced to punt.
Chattanooga will close out the regular season next weekend with a visit from Elon on Military Appreciation Day. Kickoff is set for 2:00 p.m. (E.S.T.) from Finley Stadium in Chattanooga, Tenn. Tickets are on sale now on GoMocs.com or by calling the UTC Ticket Office at (423) 266-MOCS (6627). The Mocs will be going for their third winning season in the last four years. That feat has not been accomplished at UTC since 1984-87.