CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.(gomocs.com) ---With the backdrop of the third-largest crowd in school history (15,812), the eighth-ranked Chattanooga Mocs fell to No. 7 Jacksonville State 23-20. The Gamecocks converted the win late in the fourth quarter.
“They made more plays than we did,” head coach Russ Huesman shared. “That’s why they won the football game. They made three fourth-down plays. We could have got them off the field and won a football game. We didn’t get it done, bottom line.
“They made a play, we didn’t. They deserved to win the game. That’s what I told the team.”
Redshirt freshman Montrell Pardue put the Mocs on top 20-16 with a big defensive play. JSU running back Troymaine Pope ran left and as he got hit, Pardue reached in, took the ball, turned and ran 55 yards for the score. It was the squad’s first fumble return for a touchdown since Wes Dothard at Samford November 5, 2011.
That set up heroics from Eli Jenkins and the Gamecocks offense. Jenkins engineered a 10-play, 79-yard drive for the game-winning tally. JSU converted two fourth-downs along the way.
Senior defensive tackle Josh Freeman stuffed Pope at the Mocs 22 on third-and-four. Miles Jones entered for an injured Pope and crashed the right side for a four-yard run and fourth-down conversion.
The Gamecocks continued to plod along. Keionta Davis dropped Jenkins for a two-yard loss on third-and-one at the 11. Jenkins found Josh Barge on the right sidelines for eight yards to the 3 on fourth. Two plays later, Jones got the deciding score.
It was tough sledding offensively tonight. The Mocs posted 196 yards with 110 coming on the ground. Derrick Craine ran for 59 yards on 12 carries. Jacob Huesman added 50 gaining 81, but losing 31 mostly to four JSU sacks.
Dee Virgin had eight stops including one for loss, while Nakevion Leslie also made eight tackles with one-and-a-half for loss. Pardue had seven tackles to go with his big play in his first collegiate action.
Pope had a career-high 173 yards rushing on 15 carries to power the Gamecocks’ running game. JSU ran 44 times for 298 while totaling 411 yards of total offense. Five plays led to 215 of those yards between Pope (65, 52, 28), Josh Clemons (49) and Jenkins (21).
Jacksonville State used both big plays and timely plays. The Mocs limited their visitors to three-for-15 on third down, but JSU was three-for-three on fourth down. The final two made the difference.
The Mocs are home again next weekend welcoming Mars Hill to town. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. Watch the game on the SoCon Digital Network connecting through GoMocs.com which has links to audio, stats and more. Fans can follow live updates on Twitter @GoMocsFB.
Play – Quarter/Time/Score
UTC – Henrique Ribeiro 30 yard Field Goal - 1/11:25/3-0
Drive: 10 plays, 62 yards, 3:35
Key Play(s): 1/10/V49 – Jacob Huesman finds Richardre Bagley for 31 yards
JSU – Connor Rouleau 34 yard Field Goal - 1/9:24/3-3
Drive: 5 plays, 66 yards, 1:57
Key Play(s): 1/10/V17 – Troymaine Pope rambles 65 yards, caught from behind by Dee Virgin
UTC – Jacob Huesman 7 yard Run (Ribeiro Kick) - 1/2:02/10-3
Drive: 3 plays, 23 yards, 1:16
Key Play(s): 48-yard punt return by C.J. Board
JSU – Ruben Gonzalez 4 yard pass from Eli Jenkins (Rouleau Kick) - 2/9:04/10-10
Drive: 7 plays, 78 yards, 2:44
Key Play(s): 2/1/V31 – Pope 52 yards around right sideline
JSU – Rouleau 35 yard Field Goal - 3/10:25/10-13
Drive: 11 plays, 57 yards, 4:35
Key Play(s): 4/2/H39 – Pope 2-yard run
UTC – Ribeiro 33 yard Field Goal - 3/4:47/13-13
Drive: 12 plays, 59 yards, 5:38
Key Play(s): 3/15/H40 – Huesman to Bagley for 16-yard catch-and-run
JSU – Rouleau 32 yard Field Goal - 4/14:12/13-16
Drive: 12 plays, 56 yards, 5:30
Key Play(s): 3/8/H46 – Jenkins to Gonzalez for 10 yards
UTC – Montrell Pardue 55 yard Fumble Return (Ribeiro Kick) - 4/8:16/20-16
Key Play(s): N/A
JSU – Miles Jones 1 yard Run (Rouleau Kick) - 4/2:41/20-23
Drive: 10 plays, 79 yards, 5:30
Key Play(s): 4/2/H22 – Jones runs 4 yards & 4/3/H11 – Jenkins finds Josh Barge for 8 yards on right sideline