It wasn't a perfect performance by any means, but it was, ultimately, a perfect start for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
In their first game under new coach Russ Huesman, and their first game with B.J. Coleman at quarterback, in front of 14,002, the third-largest home crowd in school history, the Mocs rolled over Glenville State 30-13 Thursday night at Finley Stadium.
The win snapped a 10-game losing streak and showed that the "new Mocs," as defensive tackle B.J. Taylor called the team earlier this week, are not the "old Mocs" who went 1-11 last season.
"New Mocs," Taylor said with a smile when asked which team showed up against the Pioneers (1-1), who are ranked No. 22 in NCAA Division II.
Huesman, in his first game as a head coach after helping win a national title in 2008 as Richmond's defensive coordinator, said the Mocs have a lot to work on before beginning Southern Conference play next Saturday against Furman. Despite the mistakes, it was an important win and a special night, he said.
"I was jacked up," Huesman said of hearing the attendance announced. "It was a great crowd and I was glad our team went over and high-fived the students over there -- that was a pretty neat thing."
Cornerback Buster Skrine set up the Mocs' first touchdown and later scored two of the more memorable points in the program's history.
Skrine intercepted a tipped pass on Glenville State's opening possession and gave Coleman and the offense the ball at the Pioneers' 24-yard line. On first down, UTC lined up with five receivers and Coleman hit wideout Blue Cooper down the middle for 22 yards.
On his first collegiate carry, redshirt freshman tailback Bo Dyer ran the ball in from the 2 on the next play to give UTC a 7-0 lead with 10:55 to play in the first quarter.
Coleman and Cooper connected often and had big games. Coleman finished 18-for-34 for 258 yards, highlighted by a 73-yard touchdown strike to tight end Garrett Hughes in the second quarter. Cooper, a fifth-year senior, had a huge night with eight catches for 127 yards.
The offense was rolling in the first half with three touchdowns and 231 yards of offense but managed just one score and 101 yards in the second.
"We've got things to work on, absolutely," Coleman said. "Game one is a good opportunity to come out and show what we can do ... but we've got to get better from it."
True freshman tailback Chris Awauh, like Dyer, scored on his first career carry, a 3-yard run early in the second quarter that put UTC up 14-0. Awuah later scored from the 2 to give the Mocs a 28-0 lead in the third quarter.
"I was kind of nervous after the first snap, first carry, but after that it just came naturally to me," said Awuah, who finished with a team-high 63 yards on 13 carries.
The Mocs led 21-0 at the half and appeared to go into cruise mode in the second half as the offense slowed down and the defense started give up big plays. Glenville's DeAndre Johnson scored on a 28-yard run with four seconds left in the third quarter to end any hopes of a shutout.
Normally an extra-point attempt doesn't provide the play of the game, but it did Thursday. The Mocs blocked the kick and defensive tackle Nick Craig, who tipped the pass Skrine intercepted, picked up the ball and ran to the right side with it and pitched the ball to Skrine.
"I saw Nick pick it up and we kind of made eye contact, and the next thing you know he just pitched it back," Skrine said later.
Skrine ran and ran on a highlight-reel-worthy play, juking about half the Pioneers and covering nearly 125 yards on about a 70-yard return.
"Once I got to the 30, I had to make it in, even though I was tired," he said. "It was fun.
"Everybody was out there making plays."