published Monday, September 30th, 2013

Penalties too much for Chattanooga Mocs to overcome

  • photo
    UTC wide receiver Tommy Hudson, bottom left, gets a block on Georgia Southern cornerback Tay Hicklin that springs teammate Marquis Green for a 17-yard run during a second quarter scoring drive at Paulson Stadium in Statesboro, Ga., on Saturday. (Statesboro Herald photo/Scott Bryant)
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

As might be expected following his post-game comments Saturday, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach Russ Huesman got a call from the Southern Conference on Sunday.

Following the Mocs' 23-21 loss at Georgia Southern, a game that turned on a UTC 40-yard touchdown pass being called back for an ineligible receiver down field, a furious Huesman said the officials "better be right" about that call.

He added: "If they're not right, I'm getting somebody fired."

Huesman said he had a long conversation Sunday with Jack Childress, the SoCon's coordinator of football officials. He said he wasn't in trouble with the league for speaking out about the officiating.

"No, he just called and we talked about the play," said Huesman, whose Mocs fell to 2-2 (0-1 SoCon) with the loss -- the third loss in a row to the Eagles that was decided by two points or less or in overtime.

On the play, wideout Tommy Hudson got free deep down the middle and quarterback Jacob Huesman hit him for a score that, with the extra point, would have put the Mocs up 28-20 with 10:56 left. The Mocs' joy turned to to disappointment quickly when they saw the yellow flag on the field.

"It was tough, heartbreaking," said safety D.J. Key, who was watching from the sideline.

After the game Huesman clearly didn't feel that the Mocs had done anything wrong on the play. In the play-by-play in the game book, no player is identified as having committed the infraction.

So how did he feel after watching the game film? Given his conversation with Childress earlier, he wasn't certain what he was allowed to say.

"I guess I can say that we executed a legal play," Huesman said. "We knew it was legal going in and it was a legal play."

That penalty, while very costly, was one of a season-high 11, for 75 yards, the Mocs committed. UTC had just 48 in 2012 and 11 through three games this season. Ten Saturday were by the offense, including another ineligible receiver call on the play after the negated touchdown.

UTC also had to burn two of its timeouts on that one drive, which started out well and then crumbled because of the penalties. The offense wasn't alone in beating itself; the defense missed plenty of tackles near the line of scrimmage, especially on first and second downs, that allowed the Eagles to seldom find themselves in third-and-long situations.

"We made a ton of mistakes," Huesman said. "Ten offensive penalties -- we just shot ourselves in the foot."

After Georgia Southern kicked the 26-yard go-ahead field goal, for a 23-21 lead with 1:56 to play, the Mocs got a 29-yard kickoff return from Terrell Robinson and started at the 29. The Mocs committed two more penalties on the drive, the last costing UTC a 10-second runoff of the clock.

The offense did get a break when GSU was whistled for pass interference on fourth-and-14, but the Eagles' heavy pass rush eventually led to a turnover that sealed GSU's win.

Watching the film, Huesman said he saw numerous offensive plays that could have gone for big yardage if assignments weren't missed or some other mistake wasn't made.

"The second play of the game, when [Robinson] was at quarterback, that play goes for 70 if we just do our assignment -- one guy," he said. "He goes untouched, but instead the dude comes and tackles him for a one-yard loss."

The Mocs are back at Finley Stadium this week against Western Carolina (1-4, 0-2), which lost 62-23 at Samford on Saturday.

Extra points

Huesman said X-rays on senior defensive tackle Derrick Lott's elbow were negative. Lott will have an MRI in the next day or two, he said. ... Jacob Huesman, who had 148 yards against GSU, is now third in the league in rushing with 90.5 yards per game.

Contact John Frierson at jfrierson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter 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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