CLINTON, S.C. -- Road games don't go much better than this.
Seeking its first football win away from home in almost two years, while also hoping to snap a 17-game losing streak against Division I opponents, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga accomplished everything it wanted Saturday at Bailey Memorial Stadium.
The Mocs got a breakout performance from their offense and a stifling second half from the defense and comfortably dispatched Presbyterian 29-13 to improve to 2-1 for the first time since the start of the 2005 season.
"I thought it was a great job by our guys -- unbelievable job," Mocs coach Russ Huesman afterward.
Nobody had a better day than senior running back Bryan Fitzgerald. In the first start of his UTC career, and just his second game back after missing all of last season with a knee injury, Fitzgerald ran hard, ran well and looked like a pinball at times as he bounced off would-be tacklers for one big run after another.
Fitzgerald finished with a career-high 181 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries.
After gaining 69 yards in last week's loss to Furman, his first game since rushing for 134 at Appalachian State in the 2007 season finale, Fitzgerald said he thought he might do well against the Blue Hose (0-3).
"I just had that feeling that I was going to have my come-out game," he said. "And I'm glad I did."
The Mocs didn't have a 100-yard rusher during their 1-11 2008 season. Nor did they beat a Division I team or win on the road. They achieved all three against the Blue Hose, who are in their third season after moving up from Division II.
The last time UTC earned a road win was on Sept. 22, 2007, when it upset Georgia Southern in overtime. The last time the Mocs beat a Division I team was a few weeks later, on Oct. 13, 2007, against Western Carolina.
"They were more excited about this one than they were the first win," Huesman said, referring to the season opener against Division II member Glenville State.
The Mocs let a golden opportunity get away early in Saturday's game. After linebacker Ryan Consiglio's interception on Presbyterian's first play from scrimmage gave UTC the ball on the PC 16-yard line, the offense went nowhere and Craig Camay missed a 39-yard field-goal attempt.
"I was mad," Huesman said of the wasted opportunity. "When you're on the road, you've got to convert those things. You've got to get points out of those things."
After Presbyterian took a 3-0 lead in the ensuing possession, Camay redeemed himself on UTC's next drive, connecting on a career-long 52-yard field goal on the final play of the first quarter. A long return of a short Camay kickoff put the Blue Hose in business, however, and they quickly went up 10-3 on a Trandon Dendy 1-yard run.
Quarterback B.J. Coleman connected with four Mocs receivers on the next possession, hitting Chris Pitchford in the end zone from the 3 for a touchdown. Coleman threw the ball over Pitchford's left shoulder, and the wideout spun around and made a diving catch in the left corner of the end zone.
"We have really, really good confidence in Pitch to make those plays," Coleman said. "Any time he's isolated on a corner we feel like he can win, and he did a good job of proving that tonight."
Coleman had his third straight 200-yard passing game to start his UTC career, finishing 16-for-29 for 224 yards and two touchdowns. Pitchford, Blue Cooper and Clint Woods had four receptions each and Terrance David had three catches for a team-high 76 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown in the third quarter that put UTC up 22-10.
The Mocs had a season-high 417 yards of offense, while the defense held Presbyterian to 255. The Blue Hose finished with just 61 yards rushing, 8 in the second half. Consiglio led the Mocs defense with 12 tackles.
Fitzgerald scored on a 15-yard run with 5:54 to go in the first half, putting the Mocs up 16-10 at the break. His 27-yard scamper through the heart of the Presbyterian defense early in the fourth quarter put UTC up 29-13 and sealed the rare road win.
The Mocs return to Southern Conference play this Saturday by hosting Wofford for homecoming.