Mocs End Season with 41-35 Overtime Loss in FCS Playoffs
JACKSONVILLE, AL (gomocs.com) ---The Chattanooga Mocs comeback story ended in disappointment with a 41-35 overtime loss at No. 1 Jacksonville State today. It was an offensive explosion as the two teams combined for 1,084 yards.
"Give Jacksonville State credit," coach Russ Huesman said. "They beat us fair-and-square. They played fantastic.
"We fought, (our guys) are down, but we fought."
Jacob Huesman and Derrick Craine led the way with 97 and 95 yards rushing, respectively. They each broke Eldra Buckley's single-season rushing record of 1,233 yards in 2005. Craine ended with 1,251, while Huesman had 1,244.
Huesman also passed for 161 yards completing 11 of 18 with two scores and one interception. He accounted for five touchdowns on the day, ending up with 108 career touchdowns and ranking third in FCS history with 4,051 rushing yards by a quarterback.
JSU amassed 640 yards, with 432 on the ground. Troymaine Pope had 234 yards on 17 carries and three touchdowns, while quarterback Eli Jenkins added 195 and another three scores. Jenkins threw for 208, completing 13 of 26 with one interception.
"(Jenkins) is a good player," Keionta Davis stated. "We put ourselves in a few bad situations rushing, and when you have a good player like that, you can't make those mistakes."
The top-seeded Gamecocks led 21-7 in the second quarter on Eli Jenkins' 10-yard run with 1:23 to go in the half. With JSU opening the second half with the ball, the Mocs needed a big play.
It happened quickly. Jacob Huesman hit James Stovall for a 20-yard gain. On the next play, he darted down the right sideline 45 yards for the score and a 21-14 deficit at the break.
Troymaine Pope's 49-yard run to start the third quarter looked to put the hosts in firm control. A Mocs three-and-out was followed by another deep drive from the Gamecocks. JSU seemed to go up 35-14, but the completion in the back of the endzone was overturned on replay.
Connor Rouleau lined up for a 39-yard field goal attempt which flew wide left. That open the door for the Mocs who took advantage.
Huesman had back-to-back scoring passes to Stovall (seven yards) and Alphonso Stewart (15). The second tied the game at 28-28 less than minute into the fourth quarter.
JSU drove deep into Chattanooga territory on its ensuing possession. Jenkins looked into the end zone, but C.J. Fritz was on the scene, intercepting the offering.
The Mocs next drive was kept alive when Huesman found Stovall across the middle for 27 yards to the JSU 39. The next play featured a little razzle dazzle. Huesman threw a backwards pass to Alejandro Bennifield on the right sideline. He looked deep to a receiver running a post, then tossed it back to Huesman who followed his blockers down the left sideline into the end zone for the 35-28 lead with 8:35 to go.
"I think the biggest part of it is how our guys fought," Jacob Huesman shared. "We put ourselves in some tough situations, but we gutted it out (and gave ourselves a chance). We've got a bunch of competitors over there, and it's those people who had us in that game."
The squads exchanged punts but Pope made a game-changing play. On second and 10 at his own 25, he burst down the left sideline for 75 yards, knotting the game at 35-all. Both teams drove to midfield on their final possessions, but the contest went to overtime.
The Mocs started with the ball. Runs by Huesman and Craine netted a first down at the 14. Huesman then looked for the junior running back with a pass into the end zone. Brandon Bender cut in front of Craine and made the interception.
Jenkins took over as JSU took its possession at the 25. He ran 11 yards to the 14 and then capped the win with a 14-yard scamper to his left.
Keionta Davis had two sacks for a school-record 13.5 for the season. Cedric Nettles had a career-high 14 tackles, while A.J. Hampton added eight stops.
Bender was the star of the Gamecocks defense. He made 11 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, adding the interception. The JSU defense accounted for nine total tackles for loss.
Chattanooga, 9-4, ends its season. The 2015 senior class tied the 1980 class for the most wins by a group of seniors with 33.