published Sunday, November 10th, 2013

Fast start gets Chattanooga Mocs rolling

Wofford wide receiver Nick Colvin (89) falls atop a teammate as he's tackled by UTC's Derrick Craine (41).
Wofford wide receiver Nick Colvin (89) falls atop a teammate as he's tackled by UTC's Derrick Craine (41).
Photo by Doug Strickland /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's first two drives Saturday were among its best of the season. Two drives, two touchdowns and a 14-0 lead against a feisty Wofford squad.

UTC got the ball first in its 20-10 win at Finley Stadium, driving 75 yards in six plays. The first play of the game was a 28-yard pass completion from Jacob Huesman to Terrell Robinson -- and off the Mocs went.

The first three plays went for first downs, and UTC got to second down only once before Huesman ran the ball in from the 7-yard line. The offense got the ball back quickly after the defense forced a three-and-out and kept the momentum going.

UTC's second drive covered 66 yards in eight plays, never getting to a third down, and ended with a 1-yard Kenny Huitt run that made the score 14-0 with 7:19 to play in the first quarter.

"They were quick, we executed really well ... they were two impressive drives to start off with," said Huesman, who rushed for 116 yards and was 15-of-23 passing for 151 yards.

That fast start helped the defense, said linebacker Nakevion Leslie, who had a game- and career-high 14 tackles.

"That's what we needed," he said. "Option teams, when the other teams goes up, they're not built to come from behind. They're built to get out in front, and what the offense did was perfect for us."

UTC finished with 384 yards and spread the ball around. Marquis Green had eight carries for 58 yards and Derrick Craine, who has received more carries with Keon Williams out with an ankle injury, had nine for 46 yards.

In the passing game, tight end Faysal Shafaat led UTC with five catches for 41 yards, including a 10-yarder in the fourth quarter that featured a big leap for a first down. C.J. Board caught three passes for 25 yards, and Tommy Hudson had three for 20.

Passing Terriers?

UTC's defense didn't allow Wofford's triple-option to shift into high gear. The Terriers were held to 172 yards rushing, more than 100 below their season average of 273.4.

That run stuffing forced Wofford to throw more often, with some success. Quarterback Evan Jacks was 7-for-15 for 39 yards, with several going for first downs.

"That was definitely a surprise," Mocs linebacker Wes Dothard said. "I think they have more success running the ball, but when they throw the ball I'm relieved. If they don't want to run the ball, that's fine with me."

UTC's defense got better as the game progressed and forced turnovers on three of Wofford's final four drives.

Peak punting

UTC's Nick Pollard and Wofford's Kasey Redfern put on a punting clinch at Finley Stadium. Pollard typically uses the rugby-style kicks that count on a long roll to get in the 45-yard range, but he showed he can boom a kick as well.

Punting from his own end zone in the second quarter, Pollard booted a career-long 78-yarder -- the last 20 was roll -- that ended up at the Wofford 9-yard line. Pollard ended the day with three punts for a school-record average of 54.7 yards.

"Nick Pollard's 78-yard punt was huge. That flipped field position, and he's been good all year," coach Russ Huesman said.

Redfern goes for height and hang-time on his boots and averaged 42.8 Saturday. His first punt of 54 yards got a little out in front of Wofford's coverage, helping UTC returner Tommy Hudson get a 19-yard return.

Extra points

UTC finished undefeated at home in SoCon play, going 4-0, for the first time since 1983. ... The Mocs ran for at least 200 yards (233) for the eighth time this season. ... UTC won the turnover battle 4-1 and was whistled for one penalty.

Contact John Frierson at jfrierson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him at twitter.com/MocsBeat.

about John Frierson...

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 ...

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