Mocs motivated to finish strong after another close loss - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Mocs motivated to finish strong after another close loss

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Russ Huesman knows from experience -- painful, painful experience -- that his University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football program has struggled to win close games the last few years.

The head coach, now in his fourth year, still can't put his finger on exactly what the Mocs are missing. And until he does, he'd prefer not to talk about it.

"It's hard to address those things right now," Huesman said in a somber tone during his weekly press conference Tuesday. "I don't know exactly what it is. We'll be looking into it in the offseason.

"Right now I'm just worried about winning this week."

This week's season-finale against Elon (2 p.m. ET Saturday at Finley Stadium) has lost a bit of luster after UTC's latest near-miss.

Despite a defense that Huesman said "played better than anyone in years against Wofford," the Terriers eeked out a 16-13 overtime win over Chattanooga that eliminated the Mocs from the Southern Conference race.

It also dropped the Mocs to 1-8 in games decided by eight points or less the last two seasons, and 0-6 in games decided by three points or less.

"We haven't really put together a complete game yet. It will be this way until we put together a game where you say there wasn't anything you could have or should have done differently. That's when the Mocs will be on top."

The margin between Chattanooga and the top tier in the SoCon continues to be razor thin.

Among those eight one-possession losses the last two years, seven of them came against ranked teams. Six of those are against the league's three traditional powers in Appalachian State, Georgia Southern and Wofford, including two in overtime.

"It's gotta happen eventually. One of these days we're going to catch one of these breaks to put us over the edge. When that happens, hopefully it sets off a chain reaction where we know what it feels like and know what it takes, and we'll be able to do it again."

There have been positives, though, in the way the Mocs have played this year in close games.

Coach Huesman notes his team's record in one-possession games would be different had UTC not finished so well in several close games this season.

After blowing several big leads last year, UTC is 4-0 this season in games that it led at the half.

"Last year the big thing was second half play with us. If you look at it this year, we've played really well in the second half and won games in the second half," Huesman said. "We can take that and move forward."

Chattanooga gets but one more chance to move forward this season, yet it still has plenty of motivation for its senior day finale with the Phoenix: a win would mark UTC's third winning season in the last four years, which is a feat it last accomplished in the 80's.

"We're playing to go into the offseason with a positive. We're playing to send the seniors out the right way at home with a win. And we're playing for a winning season," said Jacob. "6-5 is underachieving a little bit in our minds, but when you consider that would make three of the last four winning seasons, knowing where this program has come from, I think that tends to be overlooked."

The Mocs will honor seven seniors and six fourth-year juniors who will not be returning to the program next year, so emotions will be running high.

However, Coach Huesman said with the caliber of team Chattanooga is trying to become, pride should be the only motivation needed.

"We can have a winning season and we can play for some great seniors, but to me, if you're a competitor, when that ball goes down it's time to play," Huesman said. "Great players do that, and I think we've got really good players. I think they'll prepare well and play well this week."

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