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Staff photo by Troy Stolt / UTC quarterback Drayton Arnold hands off to Ailym Ford during the first half of Saturday's game at Western Kentucky in Bowling Green. Ford rushed for 92 yards on 25 carries and Arnold had a touchdown run in the Mocs' 17-13 loss in a game not decided until the final minutes.

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Here are three takeaways from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team's 13-10 loss at Western Kentucky on Saturday, the Mocs' lone game this fall.

Ailym Ford is back: Social media videos suggested the UTC running back who was the 2019 Southern Conference freshman of the year had recovered from a torn ACL that forced him to miss the end of last season. However, it was not clear if he was ready for full competition, especially against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent. Twenty-five carries and 92 yards later against the Hilltoppers, any questions had been answered — and against a defense tailored to stop him.

UTC D: The Hilltoppers used big plays to manufacture field goals on their first possession of the game and their second series of the third quarter, but other than those lapses, the Mocs were stellar on defense. They held the home team to 254 yards of total offense, 27 below its season average. The Mocs also had 10 tackles for loss and forced a fumble, and they frustrated the Hilltoppers all game long. UTC's defense will be something to keep an eye on in the spring.

Passing must improve: It's been a while since UTC graduate transfer Drayton Arnold has started a football game, last doing so in his senior year — of high school. It wasn't a horrible start, as he was able to use his legs to run for 27 yards in the game and the Mocs' touchdown on the opening series. But the passing game was way too inconsistent. UTC has capable receivers, and with the Mocs' potency in the running game, they will need Arnold to at least keep defenses honest throwing the ball. He was 9-for-23 for 90 yards Saturday, and he will have to be better once the Mocs reconvene for their SoCon schedule next semester, with the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs also moved to the spring.

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3.

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