STATESBORO, Ga. -- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team's present is occupied by more pain and disappointment following Saturday's 28-27 Southern Conference loss to top-ranked Georgia Southern -- the 23rd-ranked Mocs' third straight defeat, by a total of four points.
Their future at quarterback, however, has to look pretty bright following a very strong fill-in performance by redshirt freshman Terrell Robinson.
"He was unbelievable," Mocs coach Russ Huesman said of the former South Pittsburg star, who took over in the second quarter after senior B.J. Coleman went out with a sprained shoulder. "They gave him a round of applause in the locker room."
Down 28-21with 6:44 left in the game, UTC (2-4, 0-3) was able to run the ball through the Eagles (5-0, 4-0) and drive for a touchdown. Georgia Southern had allowed a total of 228 yards rushing all season before Saturday, when the Mocs pounded out 238, led by Robinson's 114.
Robinson, Marquis Green and J.J. Jackson all had runs of at least 10 yards on the 11-play drive, and Robinson capped it with a 5-yard scramble into the end zone that made it 28-27 with 1:44 to play.
The Mocs then called time out to discuss what to do next, and Huesman opted to try for the two-point conversion.
"I wanted to win the damn game," he said, his face flushing red with anger. "I wanted to win the game right there because we had momentum."
Huesman added that the loss was "on me. I lost this game for our football team."
Robinson lined up in the shotgun, but he never had a chance. A low snap got the play off to a bad start and then the Eagles were quickly in the backfield to wrap him up, much to the relief of the crowd of 20,593 at Paulson Stadium
Coleman suffered the injury on a hit to his right (throwing) shoulder by linebacker Josh Rowe, who was flagged for roughing the passer on the play. Coleman said he didn't think the injury was too serious but won't know for sure until today.
The game was scoreless when Coleman went out, early in the second quarter, but not for long. The Eagles scored two quick touchdowns and led 14-0 with seven minutes left in the first half.
Robinson, Tennessee's 2009 Class 1A back of the year, was going to see some action at quarterback regardless, because UTC wanted to surprise GSU with his dual-threat capabilities.
In the first quarter Robinson came in and ran the ball once, for a yard. After Coleman got hurt, Robinson came in and ran for 6 yards before fumbling the ball at the GSU 13-yard line.
"I had a package going into the game, but B.J. got hurt and that was it," Robinson said.
Once he got over his nerves, Robinson settled down and efficiently ran the offense. UTC had 21 yards of offense in the first quarter and finished with 325, 226 coming in the second half.
Robinson also went 5-for-9 passing for 62 yards, with one interception on a desperation heave that Scott picked off at the GSU 3.
The three-game losing streak is UTC's first under Huesman, who took over in 2009. The Mocs lost at Appalachian State 14-12, blew a 27-point lead in last week's 28-27 home loss to The Citadel and Saturday came up a point short against the No. 1 Eagles, who reached the FCS playoff semifinals last season.
"We know how good of a team we are and the record doesn't show it," UTC linebacker Gunner Miller said.
The record does show that the Mocs must win their final five games to be eligible for the playoffs. They host Western Carolina next Saturday.
"It's heartbreaking, it's frustrating," Miller said, "but Tuesday we're going to get back to work and we're going to start the playoffs next week."