The tone for the rest of the game Saturday at Whitmire Stadium was set by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's first drive of the third quarter.
Mocs quarterback Jacob Huesman ran for 11 yards on the first play and 13 on the second. A Huesman pass to Tommy Hudson gained six yards and was followed by a three-yard Kenny Huitt run.
On the next play, Huesman ran up the middle for a 51-yard touchdown that cut Western Carolina's lead to 24-22. Huitt (137 yards) and Huesman (130) both gained more than 100 yards in the second half.
Using a very effective ground game that gained 291 yards in the second half, and a defense that allowed only one first down in the final two quarters, UTC (5-4, 4-2 Southern Conference) ran away for a 45-24 win.
The Mocs came in averaging 155.9 rushing yards a game and finished with 367, out of 474 yards of total offense. There were long plays like Jacob's 51-yarder and Huitt's 74-yard touchdown run, and there were quite a few intermediate runs of around 10 yards.
"We wanted to get the passing game going, but we saw that the rushing game was really working," center Patrick Sutton said. "As offensive linemen, you want to be able to depend on us, and I liked the fact that we were able to run the ball so effectively."
As a team, UTC averaged 7.8 yards per rush. The Mocs did well, but Western Carolina (1-9, 0-8), which ranks 119th out of 121 Football Championship Subdivision programs in total defense, sometimes made UTC look good.
"It's not like we were perfect or anything," Mocs coach Russ Huesman said Sunday after the team went through a walkthrough at Scrappy Moore Field. "[The Catamounts] made some mistakes. To get a 74-yarder, you aren't getting everybody blocked. You either outrun them or make them miss, and Kenny just hit and the corner just stood there."
Up next for UTC is No. 7 Wofford, which lost in double overtime at Samford on Saturday. The Terriers lead the SoCon in run defense at 124.6 yards per game, so a repeat running performance in Spartanburg, S.C., is unlikely.
But as running back J.J. Jackson said following the WCU win, that kind of rushing performance is "uplifting" and "is what we should be doing all the time."
Mocs linebacker Gunner Miller sat out most of the second half Saturday with a stinger. Fifth on the team with 45 tackles, Miller participated in Sunday's walk-through and is expected to play at Wofford. ... Cornerback Sema'je Kendall, who missed Saturday's game with a concussion, also participated Sunday.
John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...