Davis Tull capped off a record-setting season, Jacob Huesman fought his way for some late, win-sealing yardage and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga beat Elon 24-17 on Saturday to clinch a third winning season in the past four years.
The Mocs (6-5, 5-3 Southern Conference) led by a touchdown with five minutes left. This had been a trouble spot for them in past games because they had a hard time getting late first downs to close out wins.
Huesman, the Mocs' redshirt freshman quarterback who had hooked up with Terrell Robinson for two third-quarter touchdown passes, ran the ball eight straight plays. On a critical third-and-5 at the Elon 35-yard line, he fought his way to a 6-yard gain that sealed the win.
"I know I don't brag on him very often, but, man, he's got some guts," said his father, Mocs coach Russ Huesman. "He's a ballplayer; he's got guts and he'll get a first down no matter what it takes."
Jacob finished with 109 yards rushing and 234 passing, setting a school freshman record for passing yards in a season with 1,712.
Tull, UTC's redshirt sophomore defensive end, also appears to have a long career ahead of him. He set a high bar this season, however.
In front of an announced crowd of 8,791 at Finley Stadium, Tull sacked Elon quarterback Thomas Wilson on back-to-back plays in the third quarter to set single-season records for sacks (12.5) and tackles for loss (19).
"I definitely never expected this," Tull said. "It feels great. I don't even know what to feel about it right now. I've got to take time to sit down and reflect on it later. Right now I'm just glad we got the win."
Coach Huesman knows how he feels about Tull and the season he had.
"I'll say it: He's the best defensive player in the league -- bar none," the coach said, adding that Tull should be a lock for the SoCon defensive player of the year.
Tull's consecutive sacks came shortly after Robinson made his second touchdown reception of the quarter. The first came on a 13-yard pass following a fumble recovery by defensive tackle Chris Mayes, which put the Mocs up 17-10.
The Mocs took a 24-10 lead with 6:40 left in the third when Jacob Huesman faked a handoff to Kenny Huitt and hit Robinson cutting across the middle. A short pass turned into a 67-yard touchdown as the former South Pittsburg star sprinted untouched and all alone the last 50 yards for the score.
"That was just preparation," Robinson said. "It was just open."
Elon made things interesting late with a 57-yard touchdown pass to All-America receiver Aaron Mellette, who finished with nine catches for 188 yards. That made it 24-17 with 5:09 to play.
"We knew he was going to be hard to defend and hard to cover," Coach Huesman said.
The Mocs didn't let the Phoenix get the ball back, though, and were able to walk off the field and into the offseason with smiles on their faces.