While the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga offense was beating itself with turnovers for three quarters at Furman on Saturday, the Mocs' defense was keeping the game close enough for a late rally.
Rally the No. 24 Mocs did, scoring 26 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to beat No. 25 Furman 36-28 at Paladin Stadium.
"We trust our offense 150 percent," linebacker Ryan Consiglio said. "We know that if we just keep getting them the football they're eventually going to do something with it. And that's exactly what happened."
The UTC (5-2, 4-1 Southern Conference) defense made it possible by holding Furman (4-3, 2-2) to a season-low 227 yards of total offense and by forcing two fourth-quarter turnovers.
Perhaps most important of all, UTC stopped the Paladins on nine of their 10 third-down attempts in the game.
"It was just kids stepping up and making plays," Mocs coach Russ Huesman said.
Furman a yard on its first three third-down plays, all of which UTC stopped. The Paladins did convert a fourth-and-1 in the second quarter and eventually scored to go up 14-3.
The Paladins led 21-10 at halftime, but UTC had out-gained Furman 301 yards to 107. The Mocs were behind thanks in large part to three turnovers.
Furman converted its first third down early in the third quarter, scoring a 27-yard touchdown on third-and-2. It was one of just two Paladin plays in the game that went for more than 20 yards.
That touchdown put Furman in front 28-10 with 9:19 to play in the third quarter. The Paladins got the ball back three plays later when Mocs quarterback B.J. Coleman had his fourth pass of the game intercepted after it bounced off wideout Brian Sutherland.
Furman got the ball at the UTC 44-yard line, but the defense forced a three-and-out.
"That was huge," defensive coordinator Adam Fuller said. "All they needed was a few yards because their field-goal kicker is [darned] good. If they'd gone up 31-10, where for sure you need three touchdowns, who knows what happens."
The defense didn't allow a first down on Furman's next two drives, meanwhile UTC's offense kicked into high gear and took a 29-28 lead with 8:57 to play in the game.
On Furman's next play from scrimmage, defensive end Josh Williams recovered a fumble at the Paladin 11 after a bad pitch. Chris Awuah scored on first down to suddenly make it 36-28.
One reason the Mocs' defense was so effective is that it was well rested. UTC ran an astronomical 102 plays, to just 54 for Furman's offense.
By contrast, in the Georgia Southern-The Citadel game Saturday, the teams combined for 119 plays.
"Out of all my years of playing, I've never had a comeback like that," said redshirt freshman cornerback Kadeem Wise, who intercepted a pass on the Paladins' final drive and is tied for the FCS lead with six. "We believed and we knew we could get back in the game."
Wide receiver Joel Bradford jumped to the No. 1 spot in the FCS in both total receiving yards (875) and yards-per-game (125.0) with his 15-catch, 274-yard performance. ... Center Justin Galyon left the game in the second quarter with a back/hip injury and did not return. His status for this Saturday's game against Elon is unknown.