Who knows what happens if B.J. Coleman doesn't throw an interception on the first play from scrimmage. Or if Bryan Fitzgerald doesn't fumble on the next drive. Or if the punt team avoids a Keystone Cops moment on the final play of the third quarter.
Individually, those mistakes didn't cost the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga a win Saturday night against Furman. Together, though, they were too much to overcome in the Mocs' 38-20 loss -- their 15th in a row to the Paladins.
"It was a culmination of things, that was the reason we didn't win the game," a tired-looking Mocs coach Russ Huesman said in his office Sunday afternoon. "It wasn't one thing."
Huesman said he still liked UTC's chances even after Max Lerner returned the interception for a touchdown and Furman recovered Fitzgerald's fumble and drove for another score.
"When we were down 14-0 I wasn't worried," he said. "I thought we could come back."
The Mocs (1-1, 0-1 SoCon) cut the deficit in half on their next drive when Coleman hit tailback Chris Awuah down the left side for a 52-yard touchdown. But Furman (2-0, 1-0) quickly answered with a 58-yard drive that ended with Tersoo Uhaa's 34-yard run.
By halftime, the Mocs had 11 first downs and 185 yards of offense, but the defense had been shredded on three drives by the Paladins, who had a 28-10 lead and 205 yards of offense on 30 plays.
"I feel like we made a lot of mistakes in the first half and started off slow," linebacker Joseph Thornton said.
Huesman's word for the defense's play in the first half: "Horrendous."
The defense was much better in the second half, intercepting a pass on Furman's first drive and holding the Paladins to a field goal and 112 yards on 29 plays.
"I told our defense in the locker room, the second half is how we're going to play defense around here," Huesman said.
Two special teams plays were pivotal in the second half. The first came after safety Jordan Tippit's interception gave UTC the ball at the Furman 42-yard line.
On fourth-and-1 at the 19, UTC tried a fake field goal with holder Sloan Allison passing to the left to wideout Blue Cooper, who was inconspicously lined up near the sideline.
The pass was complete for a big gain, but the play was called back because of an illegal formation. Huesman vehemently argued the call and maintained Sunday that it was a legal play -- one that Georgia Tech executed against Clemson last Thursday.
"It was a legal play. What we did was a legal play, and that's all I'm saying," he said.
Had the Mocs converted it, they could have cut Furman's lead to 28-20 and been right back in the game. They still might have had a shot if everything didn't go wrong on the final play of the third quarter.
On fourth down at UTC's 26, Brock Oliver's snap was high and punter Mike Hammons couldn't catch it. The ball rolled into the end zone and Hammons tried to kick it out of bounds, but missed it completely, allowing Furman's Ryan Steed to dive on it for a touchdown.
"We played hard for four quarters, but just playing hard is not good enough," Huesman said. "You have to play smart, you have to be assignment sound and we weren't.
"They didn't make the mistakes we made. That's the difference in the game."