University of Tennessee at Chattanooga freshman running back Ailym Ford registered his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season — and his first 200-yarder — in Thursday night's 16-13 win over East Tennessee State University, and in doing so he quickly is climbing the program's record charts.
He now has 757 yards for the season and is on pace to surpass Mike Smith's 1,090-yard freshman record set in 1977. He is also two behind Smith's record six 100-yard games, and his 31 carries Thursday gave him 153 this season, surpassing Kenyon Earl for fourth all-time in freshman carries. James Roberts is No. 1 with 215, set in 1989.
The meeting with the Buccaneers was the Mocs' second Thursday night home game of the season. Coach Rusty Wright hopes UTC and the Southern Conference in general will consider scheduling more of them.
"It's a really neat changeup in the middle of a grind," said Wright, whose team opened the season against Eastern Illinois on a Thursday and also won that Aug. 29 game. "I always enjoyed it when I was in the MAC or in the Sun Belt and playing Thursday night games.
"I wish our league would do it more. Four teams played last Saturday, and I know there are some logistical problems in some places. It would be a good thing for our league moving forward to find a way to do it so that maybe we could monopolize a night. Maybe figure out a way to get a game truly on TV when a key game comes up during October or November."
Despite mounting injuries, the Mocs haven't had to play many true freshmen this season, something that will change in a couple of weeks, Wright said.
The team's open date allowed coaches to put the freshmen through more practice drills in hopes of getting some of them playing time later in the season. They can retain their redshirt status if they participate in four or fewer games.
"We've got good enough guys to play in spots — we don't have a lot of them, and that's the worrisome part — so that's why we're getting some of the younger guys some reps so they can step in if we need them," Wright said of the Mocs' thinning depth.
"But if we can make it to Furman and not have to play them, then we will start getting them in there because we can and not have to burn redshirts. It will be good to see what some of them can do."