No. 3 Chattanooga Cruises to 37-7 Win at ETSU
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn.(GoMocs.com)---Fall was in the air, but No. 3 Chattanooga kept rolling to 5-0 with a 37-7 road win at ETSU on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. The 5-0 start is the program's first since 1979, with a 3-0 mark in Southern Conference play.
The Mocs scored on five runs of two yards or fewer, along with a career-long 52-yard field goal by Henrique Ribeiro. Derrick Craine tallied three of the scores withRichardre Bagley and Kyle Nalls netting the other two.
Defensively, the Mocs overcame a sluggish start to limit their hosts to just 132 yards. The Bucs started strong with 71 over the first 15 minutes before collecting just 61 over the final three frames.
"I thought our defense played really, really well," coach Russ Huesman shared. "Offensively, we didn't run the ball very well….didn't block very well, but we did make some plays when we had to.
"The other thing I don't think people realize is special teams. We pinned them back a couple of times and almost blocked a few punts, forcing some bad punts. I think we gave our offense really good field position."
The offense rolled up 397 yards with 217 on the ground and another 180 by air. Craine and Tyler Roberson led the way with 63 yards apiece. Alejandro Bennifield completed 16 of 26 passes for 180 yards with one interception.
Ribeiro's booming kick started the scoring. Craine and Bagley added one-yard plunges for a 17-0 halftime advantage. Craine's two scores, along with Nalls' final tally of the fourth quarter, sandwiched an 11-yard TD pass from Nick Sexton to Dalton Ponchillia.
The big separation came in the third quarter. Craine's second touchdown of the day was followed by a touchback by Ribeiro. Nakevion Leslie dropped Ponchillia for a 12-yard loss, forcing the wideout to fumble. Montrell Pardue scooped it and returned it to the one. Next play was Craine's third score of the day.
"I think Derrick Craine ran really hard," Huesman added. "It was a huge third down on the swing pass to keep the drive alive. He made a guy miss and then made another guy miss and kept his balance to pick up a key first down.
"He always does that though. He knows if it is third and whatever, he has to make a play. And he does, somehow.
"Nakevion Leslie caused the fumble, and he looked like he was really active," Huesman continued. "C.J. Fritz did a great job. He was in press coverage the whole time, and they caught one ball on him all day."
Dale Warren led the stout defensive effort with eight tackles including one-and-a-half for loss. Leslie made six stops, as did Lucas Webb, with both getting a pass breakup.
Trevor Wright intercepted Herink at his own 8 to end the Bucs first drive of the game. It was the only time ETSU's offense moved into UTC territory. Its one score came after an 87-yard fumble return to the Mocs 11 yardline.
Dylan Weigel led the Bucs with 12 tackles. On the other side of the ball, Jajuan Stinson ran for 39 yards with 30 coming in the opening quarter. Starter Austin Herink threw for 40 yards completing 11 of 19 throws with an interception.
The Mocs return home to host Mercer at 4 p.m. Tickets for Homecoming weekend are available onGoMocs.com or by calling (423) 266-MOCS (6627). Access links to the video stream (SoCon Digital Network), audio (Mocs Sports Network on 96.1 the Legend) and live stats on GoMocs.com's football schedule page.