Mistakes aplenty in Mocs win

Mistakes aplenty in Mocs win

September 21st, 2009 by John Frierson in Sports - College

The glow of a win, even the first on the road and against a Division I opponent in nearly two years, doesn't last much beyond sunrise.

"There was a good feeling last night and when I woke up this morning, but when you watch the film, it's not," University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach Russ Huesman said shortly after noon Sunday, less than 24 hours after the Mocs defeated Presbyterian 29-13 at Bailey Memorial Stadium in Clinton, S.C.

The Mocs are 2-1 for the first time since 2005. The road win was their first since September 2007 and it was UTC's first victory over a Division I team since October 2007.

Huesman knows all that, and he was excited as anyone as he walked off the field. Still, the mistakes the Mocs made, even in victory, can't be ignored -- not with Wofford coming to Finley Stadium on homecoming this Saturday.

"We're making mistakes on both sides of the ball, and the kicking game, and I don't know if they're as much physical mistakes as they are dumb mistakes," he said. "We're just not putting ourselves in the best position to make plays or to execute. We won because we were a better football team and we didn't turn the ball over."

The Mocs also won because the Blue Hose (0-3) couldn't stop running back Bryan Fitzgerald, who rushed for a career-high 181 yards and two touchdowns. While Huesman shook his head a some of the miscues he saw while watching the game film on the laptop computer in his office, he couldn't help but smile during some of Fitzgerald's runs.

"One good thing we can point to is Fitzgerald -- a phenomenal game," Huesman said. "I mean, he ran through tackles. Sometimes we didn't block anybody and he made a bunch (of yards) on his own. Fantastic job. He was drilling people in pass protection, too.

"He's a tough dude and I'm proud of him. That's a ballplayer right there."

It was Fitzgerald's second game back after missing the opener and all of the 2008 season with knee injuries. He rushed for 69 yards against Furman in Week 2 and said he feels he's running just as well as he did in 2007, when he led the Mocs in rushing.

"I'm a little rusty, but I'm good, I'm feeling real good," he said.

The Mocs led 16-10 at the half and though the scoreboard didn't necessarily reflect it, they dominated the final two quarters, especially on defense.

The defense held Presbyterian to 255 yards of total offense, including just 107 in the second half. The Blue Hose rushed for 61 yards, gaining a mere 8 yards on seven carries in the second half.

Nearly half of Presbyterian's second-half yardage came on one play, a 48-yard completion in the third quarter. That play, which came with the Mocs leading 22-10, was followed by a pass interference penalty, giving PC a first down at the UTC 8-yard line.

The defense, needing to make a stop, held the Blue Hose to a field goal, their only points of the second half.

"We had a great second half -- came out hard, came out fast, we were enthused, that's what you look for in a defense," said linebacker Joseph Thornton, who had seven tackles and an interception. "We were flying to the hard to the ball, all 11 men to the ball, and you can't beat that. If we keep flying to the ball like that, we're going to get a lot more victories."


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