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UTC running back Derrick Craine, left, breaks around teammate Synjen Herren during the Mocs' football game against the Mars Hill Lions at Finley Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tenn. UTC won 44-34.

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Craine leads Mocs past surprisingly tough Lions

Saturday afternoon, Derrick Craine had a career day for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga offense.

Last Monday evening, though, football was the furthest thing from his mind.

Craine ran for 169 yards and three touchdowns and added a touchdown pass reception as the 10th-ranked Mocs defeated NCAA Division II member Mars Hill 44-34 in front of 9,491 fans at Finley Stadium. The Mocs finished with 518 yards of total offense, overcoming a second consecutive below-average performance for the defense, which gave up 428 yards to the Lions.

Quarterback Jacob Huesman was 25-for-37 passing for 265 yards and added 44 yards on 10 carries. Receiver Xavier Borishade had career highs of 10 catches and 116 yards in UTC's final tune-up before opening Southern Conference play this coming Saturday at Samford.

"Obviously, a win's a win," UTC coach Russ Huesman said. "We've got to be excited to win a football game, so we are excited that we got a win, but we cannot play defense and continue to give up big plays. We can't do it — and we're going to get it fixed — but we didn't compete defensively. Thank goodness the offense carried us today."

Craine spent most of Monday in a Chattanooga hospital after suffering food poisoning from what he called some "bad chicken." He suffered major dehydration, forcing him to miss Tuesday's practice, and received IV injections.

He was fine Saturday.

"To come out and work, and have fun with each other, that's what we really needed," Craine said. "Today started with the front five. They played great, blocked well and opened up holes, and the receivers were outstanding blocking on the edge.

"Without the other 10 guys, a 169-yard day doesn't happen."

He had 90 yards and two scores in the second half, which helped break open a 21-all tie.

The Mocs trailed by a touchdown on two occasions in the first half, as the Lions found success in their passing game. Quarterback Matt Layman, who finished with 220 yards passing, threw four touchdown passes to Keshaun Taylor, who had nine catches for 157 yards.

The Mocs scored on two of their three third-quarter possessions, while limiting the Lions to 74 yards of total offense in the quarter, in building a 35-21 advantage. Mars Hill cut the lead to 35-27 on Taylor's third touchdown of the game, but UTC's Taylor Reynolds blocked the extra point and Trevor Wright scooped up the loose ball and returned it for a safety, giving the Mocs a little breathing room.

The Lions responded again on Taylor's fourth scoring reception, but UTC put the game away with a nine-play, 84-yard drive sealed on Craine's scoring pass from Jacob Huesman.

Mars Hill running back Shaikel Davis had 128 yards rushing, including a 73-yard run in the second quarter.

A week earlier, the Lions lost 42-14 to UTC's SoCon foe Western Carolina.

"I feel like we underestimated this team a little bit," Borishade said. "Coach says for us to treat everybody like a faceless opponent, but I feel like this is one of the teams we didn't. They came in as a Division II team that was very good, and they showed that today. We underestimated them, but I promise we're not going to ever do that to another team."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.

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