Not long after University of Tennessee at Chattanooga quarterback Jacob Huesman was stopped on fourth-and-2 in triple overtime Saturday night, clinching a grueling 39-31 win for No. 2-ranked Georgia Southern, Eagles quarterback Jerick McKinnon summed up the game and his take on the Mocs.
"They threw a punch, we threw a punch and I just can't comment enough about how good of a team they were," McKinnon told reporters.
Eagles coach Jeff Monken called the game a "roller-coaster ride" between two good teams. Southern Conference-leading GSU (7-1, 6-1) was smiling afterward, while the Mocs (4-4, 3-2) were stuck with another heart-breaking loss.
It was an overtime loss, Mocs coach Russ Huesman said Sunday, that probably should have been a UTC win in regulation. Not only did UTC have the two key special teams turnovers, but the Mocs' offense was hardly on the field.
"We had 43 snaps in regulation, offensively," he said. "Five possessions in the first half and four in the second -- you can't do that."
The Mocs lost a possession on Marquis Green's fumble on a first-quarter kickoff return, which led to a 14-0 Eagles lead. In the fourth quarter, after UTC rallied for a 24-21 lead and the Mocs' defense had forced a three-and-out with about 13 minutes left, Tommy Hudson fumbled a punt return. The Eagles recovered and tied the game with a field goal.
Georgia Southern ran 81 plays and had 427 yards of offense. UTC ran 56 plays and had 316 yards. The Mocs actually averaged 5.6 yards per play to GSU's 5.3, but the Eagles had a huge 38:52 to 21:08 advantage in time of possession.
"We didn't get enough possessions," Huesman said. "Any time you play an option team, every possession's valuable because you just don't know how many you're going to get."
Jacob Huesman's 170 rushing yards were well over half of the Mocs' total yardage, and he also threw for 102 yards on 11 of 20 passing. UTC's coach bragged a little on his son's performance -- he's never appears comfortable doing so -- and also credited the offensive line with playing well against a stout GSU defensive front.
Defensively, Huesman was disappointed in some third-and-long situations that GSU converted. The Eagles' first score, a 29-yard cutback run, came on third-and-7. Of Mocs defensive tackle Derrick Lott's 15 tackles, Huesman said he'd never seen anything like it.
The Mocs are off today and will begin preparing for Western Carolina (1-8, 0-7) on Tuesday.