CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (GoMocs.com) --- The 13th-ranked Chattanooga Mocs (0-2) fell 26-23 to visiting Jacksonville State (1-1), the FCS' ninth-ranked team, in overtime at Finley Stadium. The Mocs battled back from a 17-7 deficit to force the extra period.
JSU's final regulation drive stalled at its own 12 with less than a minute to play. Hamish MacInnes's punt travelled 43 yards where senior Tommy Hudson caught it at his own 45. He started right, came left, broke a tackle and busted loose. His protection down the sideline was impeccable as he darted into the end zone to the delight of the 14,285 in attendance. But there was a flag on the play with a block in the back called eventually sending the game into overtime.
“Everyone else was jumping up and down,” coach Russ Huesman said. “But I saw the flag…we knew it was coming back.”
DeMarcus James had back-to-back six-yard runs to set the Gamecocks up first-and-10 at the Mocs 13. Quarterback Eli Jenkins finished it off with a 13-yard run for the 26-23 win.
“Tough game,” coach Huesman stated. “I give Jacksonville State credit. They played hard. They got after us, especially defensively. They were well-coached and did a fantastic job. I don't want to say they deserved to win the game, but they won it fair and square. It was a tough loss. We have to regroup and get ready for Austin Peay.”
Chattanooga's defense kept it close. It was a 17-14 game at the break because of two pick-six interception returns. Dee Virgin tied the score at seven-all in the first quarter taking one back 55 yards. Lucas Webb ended the first half tallies with a 37-yard return for a score taking advantage of a big bounce.
Max Shortell tried to go deep on a double move by his receiver. Virgin did not bite and batted the ball to break up the play. Webb followed the ball and was in position to make the interception. He then traversed the sideline for a touchdown on his first career interception.
Connor Rouleau got the lone points of the second half for the Gamecocks with a 21-yard field goal with 11:54 left in the third quarter. The Mocs defense kept JSU in its end of the field for four of its final five possessions with three three-and-outs.
The offense started moving the ball behind the legs of Williams along with some timely plays in air by Huesman. The third and fourth quarter scoring drives ventured inside the visitors' 10, but the Mocs could not penetrate the goal line. Ribeiro made kicks from 26 and 22 yards for the 20-20 score and eventual foray into overtime.
Williams, along with Ribeiro, was the offensive bright spot. He gained 62 hard-fought yards on 24 carries. Ribeiro scored a career-high 11 points with three field goals and two PAT's.
JSU had a big game on the ground. James' 112 yards led the way as the team totaled 285 yards with three scores. James (4 yards), Miles Jones (12) and Jenkins (13) found the end zone. Jenkins added 82 yards rushing to go with 122 in the air completing 15 of 21 passes with Virgin's pick-six as his only interception.
Cedric Nettles and Nakevion Leslie led the Mocs in tackles. Nettles had 12, while Leslie added 10 including one-and-a-half for loss. Michael Carlisle paced the Gamecocks with eight stops and two of their four sacks.
Chattanooga hits the road next week making the short trip north to Austin Peay. Game time is 5 p.m., in Clarksville. Links to video stream, stats and more can be found on GoMocs.com, and fans can follow live updates on Twitter @GoMocsFB.
SCORING SUMMARY Play – Quarter/Time/Score JSU – Miles Jones 12 yard run (Connor Rouleau Kick) - 1/11:07/0-7 Drive: 6 plays, 67 yards, 1:45 Key Play(s): 3/14/H40 – Eli Jenkins hits Josh Barge for 28 yards