Mocs face tough-to-tackle Breitenstein amidst title chase - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Mocs face tough-to-tackle Breitenstein amidst title chase

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- There two opposing Southern Conference players Russ Huesman can't wait to see graduate.

It just so happens the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga must go through each of them in the season's final two weeks to earn its first league title since 1984.

The Mocs' head coach just shook his head at the mention of Elon wide receiver Aaron Mellette, who was named the SoCon Player of the Month early Tuesday. UTC wraps up the regular season against the Phoenix at Finley Stadium next week.

This Saturday, though, UTC's challenge comes straight up the middle from Wofford's bulldozer of a fullback, Eric Breitenstein. And Huesman isn't exactly looking forward to it.

"Seeing him in person is one thing, but when you watch him on film and you get that rewind button working, you sit there and wonder, 'How did he get three yards on that play?'" Huesman said. "He has a knack for always going forward. He's not a guy who is flashy, but all of us coaches around the league have seen the film and have even more of an understanding for how good he is."

The reigning SoCon Offensive Player of the Year is off and running again in his senior season. The 5-11, 230-pound battering ram has racked up 1,396 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2012 on just 188 carries. That's an average of 7.4 yards per carry.

"He's tough. You definitely can't tackle him with an arm. You have to square up and gang tackle him," said Mocs' linebacker Shane Heatherly. "He's really smart about how he runs the ball, and he hits all his holes so tight.

"You'll make a good play on him and then look up and it's second-and-five, and you don't know how it happened."

Breitenstein has done plenty of damage against the Mocs the past two years, rushing for 271 yards and four touchdowns in two Wofford wins. He's certainly not the only option in the Terriers' offense, but he's usually the first.

"He's run for a ton against us. He does it to everybody. You just hope he doesn't pop that big one against you," Huesman said. "You just can't seem to stop him behind the line of scrimmage. No one's done it. If anyone has the secret, I don't know it.

"He's got a knack for getting yards. He's a tough, tough player."

Mocs still in the SoCon championship hunt
With two games left in the regular season, Chattanooga finds itself in unfamiliar territory: the championship chase.

The top line on Huesman's goal board has always been to win a Southern Conference championship, and now in his fourth year at his alma mater, the Mocs are in position to put their first check mark next to it.

"When we lost to Georgia Southern, I told the team this thing wasn't over yet," Huesman said. "You just never know how these games are going to unfold.

Georgia Southern's loss to Appalachian State last week opened the door for the Mocs to work their way into a potential two or three-way tie at the top.

"A bunch of people told me (the score) right after the game," Huesman said with a smile. "(UTC Sports Information Director) Jay (Blackman) was walking up to me as I was coming in, and I cut him off and said, 'Jay, I already know.'"

The Eagles have already clinched a share of the title with a 6-2 mark in league play, while Wofford and Appalachian State join the Mocs with two league losses and work left to do. The Terriers (at Chattanooga) and Mountaineers (vs. Furman) only have one SoCon game remaining, while UTC (at Wofford, vs. Elon) must play two more.

"Every one of us is here to win a championship," said senior offensive lineman Adam Miller. "Coach Huesman is one of the few here that know what it takes to win one, so he's making sure we don't take anything lightly.

"We had a chance to take advantage of a few opportunities two years ago and didn't do it, so we know very well that we still have to go out and play."

The biggest of those missed opportunities UTC's last trip to Wofford in 2010.

The Mocs needed a win in their regular season finale to likely earn an at-large bid in the playoffs. Instead, they were blown away in a 45-14 rout.

"I remember it, and I remember it really well. I'm definitely using it as motivation," Miller said. "But the reality is Wofford came out from the start and played well and was the better team that day. We need to do that this time around."

The only thing certain about the championship race is that the Mocs will not earn the SoCon's automatic bid to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. UTC would be eliminated by a tiebreaker in any of the three final scenarios.

However, that won't dampen an accomplishment 24 years in the making for the Mocs.

"If we win these than we're Southern Conference champions," Huesman said sternly. "I don't care if eight teams tie for it. We'll be Southern Conference champs, and that's all it will say in the press guide next year."

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