The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team lost 35-20 to Furman on Saturday at Finley Stadium to fall to 4-5 overall and 3-2 in Southern Conference play.
Furman is 6-3, 5-1.
Furman quarterback Darren Grainger got all the pub for the Paladins heading into the game, but it was backup Hamp Sisson who stole the show. Sisson produced touchdown drives on four of his first six series and finished the game 9-of-14 passing for 99 yards with 53 more yards and a touchdown on the ground. He also ran the Paladins' option offense to near perfection, often catching UTC defenders out of position for big plays.
142 — Furman's yardage total in the second quarter tells a big part of the story. The Mocs held the Paladins to 51 yards in the first quarter, but with Sisson energizing the offense, the second stanza changed the game. The Mocs put up big yardage in the quarter as well but managed only three points.
Furman coach Clay Hendrix inserted Sisson into the lineup trailing 9-0 midway through the second quarter. The redshirt freshman from Birmingham, Alabama, immediately drove the Paladins 58 yards for a touchdown and later 80 yards for another one. On those two drives, he was 6-for-9 passing for 57 yards and had 28 rushing yards, including the go-ahead 8-yard score. Grainger, also a redshirt freshman, started but was just 2-for-7 with an interception before being pulled.
Sisson's 32-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Miller midway through the third quarter made it a two-possession game. After forcing UTC's offense into a three-and-out series, the Paladins fielded a short punt and went for the quick score on first down. Sisson made a nice play-action fake and hit the streaking, wide-open Miller in stride down the right sideline.
WHAT IT MEANS
Unfortunately for the Mocs, Saturday's loss, barring some late-season SoCon upsets by other teams, takes them out of the running for the conference title and in all likelihood smothers any playoff hopes. As with last weekend's loss at Wofford, missed opportunities hurt UTC. Expect to see some freshmen start to get playing time beginning next Saturday at Samford. The Mocs still have an excellent chance for winning records overall and in conference play, but how they respond to this loss will be key to earning either.