The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has struggled at times closing out wins the past few seasons because of an inability to get first downs and run out the clock.
Late in Saturday's 24-17 win against Elon, the Mocs had the ball with 5:03 on the clock and needed some first downs to seal the win. The last thing they wanted was to have to give the ball back to Elon, which had already beaten the Mocs deep twice for long touchdowns.
"When I looked up on the clock, I was like 'We've got five minutes to go; we've got all three timeouts," said Elon All-America wideout Aaron Mellette of his late 57-yard touchdown that made it a one-score game.
On the other sideline, Mocs senior right tackle Adam Miller said, the offensive line was determined to get the job done.
"As we went out on that last drive, we as an offensive line came together and we're like, we're not giving the ball back," Miller said. "We made sure that we did everything we could to not give them a chance to tie it up."
Jacob Huesman ran the ball eight straight plays, gaining 46 yards and three first downs.
"We had to finish with the ball in our hands and we did," Huesman said. "We brought [the clock] all the way down to zero, and that's what matters."
UTC gave up 24 points in the fourth quarter against Appalachian State on Sept. 22 and lost 34-17. In UTC's final seven games of the season, the Mocs allowed a total of 30 points in the third and fourth quarters.
Elon's only points after the game was 10-10 at halftime came on Mellette's 57-yard touchdown.
"We really wanted to work on that, and we knew we had to close better," said Mocs cornerback Kadeem Wise, who had seven tackles.
Kicking issues continue
The Mocs again had their issues in the kicking game. Nick Pollard made a 30-yard field goal in the first quarter but missed from 39 in the second. He also had two kickoffs go out of bounds.
Between Pollard and Henrique Ribeiro, UTC finished the season 12-of-20 on field-goal tries.
Pollard was exceptional punting Saturday, however. Five of his six punts were downed inside the 20, and he averaged 43.2 yards per punt.
Safety Zach McCarter left the game in the second quarter with an apparent knee injury and did not return. Linebacker Gunner Miller (shoulder) and wideout Ron Moore (hamstring) did not play.. ... Linebacker Wes Dothard led UTC with nine tackles. ... Mellette's 100-yard receiving game was the 23rd of his career.
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 ...