Russ Huesman could hear The Citadel players celebrating in Finley Stadium's visiting locker room.
He wondered, "What if?"
And after his University of Tennessee at Chattanooga team lost 28-27 to the Bulldogs on Saturday, he'll ponder that question even more than he did a week earlier in a 14-12 loss at No. 3 Appalachian State.
"Last week the what-if was 'What if we don't snap it on the ground?'" Huesman said. "This week there are a bunch of what-ifs. Why didn't we tackle this guy? Why didn't we get him on the ground? Why did we throw the interception? What happened on the pass interference?"
There is no one exact answer as to why UTC stole defeat from the hands of victory. The Mocs led 24-0 at halftime and tacked on a field goal early in the third quarter. Those points were a gift from the fumble of Darien Robinson at the Bulldogs' 9-yard line.
Perhaps the Mocs weren't prepared to finish the game -- play the second half the way they played in the first 30 minutes.
"I think that we thought that we had this game set in stone, so nobody paid attention that they were coming back," sophomore receiver Marlon Anthony said. "Nobody was really talking about it. We didn't really notice that we were about to lose the game until the game was on the line."
The UTC offense didn't do much of anything in the second half. After halftime, UTC amassed 57 total yards, 11 on the ground, and threw two interceptions in 26 snaps. The Mocs had 252 yards at intermission.
"I think we got a little complacent," quarterback B.J. Coleman said. "That's the bottom line. There are things we can do better, and it starts with me. This one has no bearing on next week."
But it relates to last week. It's two crushing defeats in a row -- one to a national power, one to just another SoCon school.
"Last week we were more determined since it was at App State and we were down by two," Anthony said. "This game, for the most part, we were up. It's The Citadel, not App State, so we're not paying attention to the fact they're coming back."
Freshman receiver Ron Moore has spent most of the season expecting to be redshirted.
But this week he started playing with the first-team offense. That practice helped produce an impressive debut.
Moore, who prepped at Seminole High School in Florida, made his first catch count -- a 60-yard touchdown from Coleman.
"When I came in the huddle, B.J. was all 'Just run,'" Moore said. "I ran a few steps, gave a head nod and kept running. I looked in the sky and B.J. had the ball there for me."
Moore followed that catch with a 52-yard catch that helped UTC take a 24-0 lead. He led UTC with 112 receiving yards.
"Ron has a lot of speed and we've seen him come along," Coleman said "I look forward to some of our old ways."
One Tull of a day
Redshirt freshman defensive end Davis Tull had the best game of his young career. The 225-pounder from Bearden High School forced Ben Dupree to throw up a prayer to avoid a sack in the first quarter.
His biggest play came in the third quarter when he scooped up a fumble forced by Wes Dothard and gave UTC the ball at the 9-yard line.
Tull finished with three tackles, one for loss, a quarterback hit and the fumble return.
Up the record book
Coleman moved up to No. 2 at UTC in career passing yards. He surpassed Kenyon Earl and now has 6,614 yards. He will be the all-time leader with another 616 yards and surpass Chris Sanders of the Air Raid era.
Joel Bradford moved into the top 10 in career receiving yards at UTC by surpassing Jeremy Grier. He now has 1,720 receiving yards.
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...