SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Great start. Great finish.
What happened in between for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga offense will be worked on, but when the Mocs on that side of the ball needed to be good Saturday at Wofford, they were.
The sputtering UTC offense had over half of its 255 yards on the first drive of the game and the last. The Mocs went 75 yards unscathed on the opening possession to take a 7-0 lead but had only 126 yards of total offense on their next nine possessions before the eight-play, 54-yard drive that ended in Henrique Ribeiro's 38-yard field goal for the 20-17 win.
"Our mentality was to do your part to win the game," center Jacob Revis said. "The defense made a few big stops today, and it was our turn to deliver and we did. The only way to simulate that situation is to play in the game and rise to the occasion, and we had some big plays by our skill guys. It all came together and we had a good drive to win the game.
"We have to focus on that every week just in case our name is called."
The team uses Wednesdays to practice two-minute type drills on the 45-yard turf portion of Scrappy Moore Field; only those drives are with one minute to play and the offense needing about 25 yards to go. Saturday's situation was in front of 8,713 fans at Gibbs Stadium, against a program the Mocs hadn't defeated in Spartanburg since 1998.
They finally got the chance to show that that work had paid off.
"We easily could have shut it down. The offense wasn't moving the ball and the quarterback was playing like crap," quarterback Jacob Huesman said, "but we kept playing for the next play, and the next play. The defense did an unbelievable job of keeping us in the game."
The defense recovered two fumbles and limited the Terriers to 14 yards on 11 plays in the third quarter, in which the Mocs had 10 points in taking a 17-9 lead into the fourth. Wofford responded with a 15-play, 61-yard drive that took 7:15 off the clock and left the Mocs with 2:25 of game time.
"You don't really change anything in that situation," Huesman said. "You just have to play faster and you have a condensed playbook. It's like a normal drive, but it's accelerated, and that's the reason we practice it. We had some failures in the past in that situation, but what a time to finish the two-minute drive and win the ballgame."
Huesman was 3-for-4 passing on the final drive, all three completions going to C.J. Board for a total of 17 yards. Huesman had carries of 11 and 10 yards, but the big play was a fourth-and-2 from the Wofford 47 with Derrick Craine sprinting 16 yards around the left side. Huesman then scrambled 10 yards to the Wofford 21 and the Mocs called time out and trotted Ribeiro out for the winning kick.
"I love that pressure," Craine said of his fourth-down run. "I love when the coaches trust me and the players trust me. That's one thing that fuels my fire, to hear the play call coming to me. I knew I needed 2 yards, then I was going to get what I could, get out of bounds so we didn't have to burn another timeout.
"The receivers did a great job blocking downfield, and (offensive lineman) Corey Levin gave me a great block."
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