LINCOLN, Neb. (UTC Sports) -- The 21st-ranked Chattanooga football team dropped its season-opener 40-7 at No. 10 Nebraska.
The Mocs opened the season against an opponent from the Football Bowl Subdivision for the tenth time in school history, making their first trip to historic Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb.
Senior linebacker Ryan Consiglio and sophomore defensive back D.J. Key led a Mocs defense that gave up 364 yards of total offense in the game, but won the turnover battle by recovering a pair of fumbles against one tipped interception. Consiglio had a game-high 14 tackles with two for loss, a forced fumble and pass breakup, while Key made 11 stops with one for loss and a fumble recovery.
Senior quarterback B.J. Coleman was 19-33 for 174 yards, with one touchdown and the one interception. He hit eight different receivers with Joel Bradford, Chris Awuah and Faysal Shafaat each capturing four apiece.
Quarterback Taylor Martinez was the star for the Cornhuskers, running for 135 yards on 19 carries. He also completed 11 of 22 passes for 116 yards. He had touchdown rushes of seven, 43 and 47 yards.
Big plays haunted the Mocs from the outset. Nebraska converted nine third downs in 18 tries, six for 11 in the opening half. Of the Cornhuskers 260 first half yards, 144 came on third down and another 43 on fourth.
The Huskers went on top five minutes into the game behind a Taylor Martinez seven-yard run. That score was set up by a 52-yard run by Rex Burkhead on third and six. Nebraska threatened again late in the opening frame, but the Mocs were able to hold their hosts to a 50-yard field goal.
Another FG from Brett Maher in the second quarter was followed by a long scoring run from Martinez. On fourth-and-one, Martinez ran the option left keeping around the corner breaking away for a 43-yard TD scamper. The Huskers tagged on one more field goal before the half to take a 23-0 lead into the locker room.
UTC came out of the locker room with an impressive seven play, 72-yard drive. Coleman started the drive with a 25-yard pass to Awuah out of the backfield. It was capped by a 13-yard TD pass from Coleman to sophomore WR Marlon Anthony.
That was as close as the Mocs would get on the scoreboard. They did threaten in the fourth quarter, but freshman Nick Pollard's 37-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Nebraska's Josh Williams.
Bradford, a preseason All-American, led Mocs receivers with 47 yards. Awuah and Shafaat had 43 and 34 yards, respectively. Freshman Marquis Green provided a spark with 37 rushing yards on seven carries, 31 coming in the second half.
Burkhead had 75 yards on 11 rushes for the Cornhuskers. Nebraska totaled 229 of its 364 yards on the ground. Brett Maher was a special teams star for the Huskers. He made four field goals from 50, 48, 34 and 21 yards, while averaging 52 yards per punt with two downed inside the 20. Maher also had three touchbacks on kickoffs.
Chattanooga punter Mike Hammons made his own mark. He averaged 44.2 yards per kick with two downed inside the 20 and two of 50 yards or more which ties his total from last year.
Chattanooga returns to the friendly confines of Finley Stadium next Saturday, September 10, to welcome Jacksonville State. The game is scheduled for 6 p.m., kickoff.
Information provided by UTC Sports Information and GoMocs.com.