The UT-Chattanooga Mocs entered Saturday’s game ranked as high as No. 17 in one poll against the Georgia Southern Eagles, looking to knock off the top team in the FCS universe. The Mocs boasted the No. 6 defense in the Football Championship-Subdivision but Georgia Southern got on the board early as three different Eagles scored to help the home team jump out to a 21-7 halftime lead. Jaybo Shaw, normally a threat to run from the quarterback spot threw for a score in the first half while Robert Brown led all rushers in the first half with 94 yards on 11 carries. Dominique Swope, JJ Wilcox and Shaw all registered scores in the second quarter.
The Mocs faced some adversity early as starting quarterback BJ Coleman had to leave the game with an injury. It appeared that Chattanooga would suffer its first ever three-game losing streak under head coach and alumnus Russ Huesman. Redshirt-freshman Terrell Robinson though came on and was perfect in the first half, 3-3 for 45 yards, finding Joel Bradford several times for gains. He also scored a touchdown in the first half to go with over 50 yards rushing. In the third quarter Chattanooga drove down the field, eating up 76 yards on the ground with JJ Jackson covering the last 20 for a score to bring the Mocs to within seven at 21-14. UTC rushed for just 29 in the first half, compared to the Eagles’ 198 rushing yards.
Georgia Southern attempted a fake punt but was stopped, giving Chattanooga the ball back in Eagles’ territory with a chance to tie the game. Robinson would make two big mistakes, first taking a 16-yard sack then throwing an interception to Georgia Southern, squashing a chance for the tie. Laron Scott snuffed out the scoring attempt with the pick on the three yard line.
Chattanooga would start the fourth quarter with possession, seeking a score with Robinson still under center. The redshirt freshman would get some help from a fake punt early in the quarter and another fourth down conversion before taking it into the endzone himself from 11 yards out to tie up the game.
Shaw and Brown would quickly lead the Eagles down the field and reclaim the lead with a QB sneak by Shaw with just under seven to play. Robinson and UTC would answer with a touchdown but the two-point attempt was no good. The redshirt freshman would finish with three scores and 114 yards rushing.
With the loss, Chattanooga dropped to 2-4 and a third-straight winning season appeared in jeopardy. Huesman has led the Mocs to back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since the early 1990s. Georgia Southern also beat Chattanooga for the 12th time in 13 games in Statesboro and improved to 21-4 all-time against UTC. UTC had won three of the last five against GSU.
Georgia Southern will welcome Furman in next week to Paulson Stadium and Presbyterian College the following Saturday before heading up to Appalachian State over Halloween weekend. Chattanooga will regroup and head home to host Western Carolina next Saturday.
Fletcher Proctor is Assistant Managing Director at Score Atlanta, a full service Atlanta-based sports marketing company and media partner with GPB Sports.