The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga rallied to defeat The Citadel 25-24 in overtime in Southern Conference football Saturday afternoon at Johnson-Hagood Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina.
The 18th-ranked Mocs (2-1, 2-0) jumped out to a 17-7 halftime lead, but the Bulldogs (0-6, 0-2) scored in the final minute of regulation to make it 17-all before taking the lead on a touchdown run by quarterback Jaylen Adams in the first overtime series.
When the Mocs got the football in the extra period, they received a gift as the Bulldogs were called for pass interference on fourth down. With UTC's possession extended, running back Tyrell Price scored for the Mocs before Drayton Arnold found tight end Jay Gibson on a shovel pass for two points and the win.
Here are three quick takeaways from the game.
Mocs dominant, but turnovers nearly killed them: In nearly every facet of the game, the Mocs were in control. They limited the Bulldogs to 230 yards of total offense, including holding the triple-option offense to an average of just 3.1 yards on 66 caries. Offensively, the Mocs threw the ball well early, which helped build the lead. It probably wouldn't have been a contest except for the early part of the second half, when the Mocs had two series end on The Citadel's half of the field and two others that ended on Arnold turnovers: a fumble in Bulldogs territory and an interception that led to the hosts' game-tying touchdown.
As expected, being aggressive worked: In a preview of this game, the Times Free Press noted the Mocs should be aggressive early - UTC had scored its first touchdown against the Bulldogs on a play covering at least 60 yards for six consecutive seasons - and that number jumped to seven on Arnold's 75-yard touchdown pass to tight end Juwan Tyus on the team's first play from scrimmage. Building the 10-point halftime lead served as a positive because, historically, the Mocs' games against the Bulldogs have been close. It certainly helps to be on the good side of an early lead in any game, and it proved to be enough this time (although it took some additional football to get the result the Mocs wanted.)
Running game still struggling, but it was clutch when necessary: Going into the spring semester schedule, the Mocs were expected to lean heavily on the running game to carry the offense, but it's actually been Arnold's arm (he passed for 222 yards in Charleston after passing for 223 a week earlier in a home win against Wofford) that has been the driving force. Still, Gino Appleberry and Price combined for 115 yards on the ground, with Price scoring the touchdown that set up the winning 2-point conversion. And there were flashes of progress as the offensive line was able to at times carve out the holes that led to 6 yards here, 5 yards there. Price had a long run of 12 yards, Appleberry 9. And getting a collective average of more than 4 yards per carry for the two bodes well.