SPARTANBURG, S.C. (gomocs.com) ---The Chattanooga Mocs 10-game Southern Conference winning streak and No. 5 national ranking was on the foot of Henrique Ribeiro this afternoon at Gibbs Stadium. The junior from Brazil was up to the challenge, hitting a 38-yarder as time expired for a 20-17 win at Wofford.
It was a big win for a lot of reasons. But one in particular, this is first road win over the Terriers since 1998.
"That's amazing," senior defensive tackle Josh Freeman said. "That's a long time. Shout out to Wofford, they played their hearts out. We knew they were going to give us their best shot, and we wanted to give them our best shot in return.
"It was just a great team win."
To call it hard-fought is an understatement. After both teams turned the ball over on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter, Isaiah Mack made sure it happened for a third time. The redshirt freshman from north Georgia pounced on a fumble at the Wofford 13.
Two plays later, Derrick Craine scored from three yards out for a 14-9 lead.
The Terriers went for it on fourth-and-two on its own 39 on its next drive. Lucas Webb shot the gap and dropped receiver Paul Nelson for a two-yard loss to give the Mocs another short field opportunity. Ribeiro made it 17-9 with a 34-yarder after the drive stalled at the 17.
Neither team gave an inch until almost midway through the fourth quarter. The Terriers mounted a 15-play, 61-yard drive, converting from fourth-and-two and fourth-and-one before Brad Butler cashed in from six yards out on third-and-goal with 2:25 to play. The sophomore signal caller kept on the PAT to knot the score at 17-all.
Jacob Huesman led the offense into quick mode when he took over from his own 25 with 2:25 left in the game. A nine-yard pass to C.J. Board was followed by an 11-yard Huesman keeper. Two four-yard completions to Board sandwiched an incompletion setting up fourth-and-two at Mocs 49 with 33 seconds to play.
Coach Huesman gambled. When asked if there was any hesitation in making the call, he said, "None. We knew we were going to go for it. We let some time tick off and it got down to 33 seconds. We knew if we didn't make it, if we can't stop them defensively, then we've got some issues."
Jacob ran the option to perfection pitching to Craine who rode the rails for 16 yards to the 31. The younger Huesman added 10 more to the 21. The Mocs ran the clock down to four seconds before calling timeout. Wofford called one as well to ice Ribeiro. The tactic did not work.
"Never had the opportunity to kick a game-winning field goal before," Ribeiro smiled. "Just happy to help my teammates get this win. I have to give credit to my offensive line for giving me the chance to get it through."
Craine led the offense with 90 yards on 14 carries and a first down. Huesman added 58 yards on 18 totes and a score as well, with a 12-yard dash on the game's opening possession. Board tied a career-high with six catches (41 yards) which he set earlier this year at Samford.
A.J. Hampton and Mack had their names called all day long. Hampton's 11 tackles tied for game-high honors, while Mack added 10, with two-and-a-half for loss, a forced fumble and fumble recovery.
The Terriers' Lorenzo Long ran for a game-high 143 yards on 24 carries including a 50-yarder in the second quarter that set up his team's first score. That paced a rushing attack that carried 60 times for 255 yards.
Drake Michaelson matched Hampton's 11 stops for the Terriers. John Patterson was also in double digits with 10.
The win keeps Chattanooga undefeated in SoCon play at 4-0, 6-1 overall. Wofford falls to 3-5, 1-3 in the league.
It's the start of Homecoming week for the Mocs. A complete schedule of events is here. Western Carolina invades the friendly confines of Finley Stadium Saturday at 2 p.m. GoMocs.com has links to video (ESPN3.com), audio, stats and more. Fans can follow live updates on Twitter @GoMocsFB.