The Citadel never gave up Saturday, even when it was getting demolished. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, meanwhile, never responded when the Bulldogs failed to roll over in the second half.
Down 27-0 in the third quarter, The Citadel rallied for four touchdowns and handed the 17th-ranked Mocs a "devastating" 28-27 Southern Conference loss Saturday night at Finley Stadium. The crowd of 10,727 were stunned as the game came to an end after it began with everything going UTC's way.
"I don't even know how to describe what happened," Mocs safety Jordan Tippit said. "I don't want to say we relaxed. I don't want to say that at all, but I'm pretty sure that's probably what it looked like."
Before ranting about everything the Mocs did wrong in the second half, and there was much to cover, a highly agitated coach Russ Huesman first gave credit to the Bulldogs.
"I'm going to start by saying that was an unbelievable effort by Citadel," he said. "Unbelievable effort. For them to be down 27-0 and come back and win that football game is unbelievable."
Huesman went on to say that UTC's coaches did a "horrible job" in the second half.
As The Citadel (2-2, 1-2) rallied, the Mocs (2-3, 0-2) had numerous chances to regroup. But it never happened.
After UTC's lead was cut to 27-21 midway through the fourth quarter, the Mocs started the ensuing drive at their 33-yard line -- and quarterback B.J. Coleman was sacked for a 13-yard loss on first down. UTC eventually had to punt and The Citadel marched down the field for the winning touchdown. Darien Robinson sparked the drive with a 39-yard run and then scored from the 3 to put the visitors up 28-27 with 2:24 remaining.
"It's devastating," Coleman said of the loss, which looked impossible at halftime when UTC led 24-0 and had held the Bulldogs to 62 yards of offense.
The Mocs got first-half touchdowns from Coleman, true freshman wideout Ron Moore and running back Chris Awuah. Late in the half, UTC got a 29-yard field goal from Nick Pollard.
"I knew we were a better football team than that at halftime," Bulldogs coach Kevin Higgins said, "and I'm happy to see these guys respond."
At halftime, Coleman was 13-of-18 for 207 yards and a touchdown and UTC had 252 yards of offense. By the end, Coleman was 19-for-33 for 253 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. UTC finished with 309 yards to 268 for the Bulldogs.
A fumble gave the Mocs the ball at The Citadel's 9 early in the third quarter, but again they had to settle for a field goal, this one a 21-yarder that made it 27-0.
Following a Coleman interception, The Citadel scored on a 1-yard Dupree run that snapped a stretch of more than eight quarters since the UTC defense had allowed a point.
"Once we threw that pick, I got conservative and it cost us," offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield said.
Huesman said UTC shouldn't have been throwing the ball deep in the first place.
"The only way they were getting back in that game was for us to throw an interception at that time and take it down to the 10-yard line," he said. "That's the only way."
He wanted the Mocs to run the ball, but that wasn't very effective. UTC's leading rusher was Awuah with 35 yards on 10 carries and the Mocs finished with 56 yards on 29 carries, which included Coleman being sacked twice for minus-16 yards.
The Citadel made things kind of interesting with a defensive stop, and then Dupree took advantage of some lackluster defense to score on a 42-yard run that made it 27-14 with seven seconds left in the third quarter.
Things got extremely interesting with less than eight minutes left when Rod Harland returned a blocked Mike Hammons punt 40 yards for a touchdown that cut the lead to 27-21.
The Bulldogs' rally continued and the Mocs were left wondering what the heck happened. And they have to wonder how to shake off this loss, a week after losing a heartbreaker at Appalachian State.
"Right now, I don't even have an answer for you," Tippit said, shaking his head.
The Mocs will have to figure things out quickly because this week they visit top-ranked Georgia Southern.