No. 7 Mocs fall to Wofford 36-28
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team dropped a 36-28 home game to Wofford Saturday.
(GoMocs.com)- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team dropped a 36-28 home game to Wofford Saturday. The loss drops the seventh-ranked Mocs to 8-2 overall and 6-2 in Southern Conference action. Wofford improved to 7-3 overall and 5-2 in league play.
The Mocs managed just 265 yards of total offense, but it was turnovers and long kick returns by the Terriers were the difference in today's game. Wofford posted a 100-yard KOR for a touchdown, another 60-yarder that setup a score, and an interception inside UTC's 15.
"We didn't play well enough to win" stated Mocs' head coach Russ Huesman. "They made more plays than we did. You cannot give up a kickoff return for a touchdown, a safety, or a turnover on the five-yard line. We didn't play well enough on either side of the football."
Chattanooga came out strong on its opening drive, beginning with senior Xavier Borishade's career-long 53-yard kick return. A 16-yard run by junior QB Alejandro Bennifield and a 17-yarder by senior RB Derrick Craine were highlights of the nine-play scoring drive, capped by a five-yard screen pass from Bennifield to junior Richardre Bagley.
It was the next kickoff that Wofford's Lennox McAfee answered with a 100-yard touchdown return. Wofford went up 10-7 later in the quarter when David Marvin nailed a 51-yard FG.
The Mocs answered with a strong seven-play, 75-yard drive before the end of the first. Bennifield was 5-5 for 70 yards on that drive, ending with a 20-yard connection to senior Derrick Craine.
Wofford came back early in the second with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Goodson to Chandler Gougher for a 17-14 lead. The two teams traded possessions before Alejandro Bennifieldlong attempt to senior C.J. Board was picked off by Jaleel Green at the Wofford 26. The Terriers could not get much going on offense, but pinned the Mocs down on their own 1-yard line with the ensuing punt.
On second down, Craine could not get out of the endzone on the near sideline and surrendered a safety that gave Wofford a 19-14 advantage. To make matters worse, Lennox took the next free kick 60 yards to the UTC 12. Four plays later, Will Gay punched it in from one yard with 3:03 left in the second.
Staring a 26-14 halftime deficit in the face, Chattanooga answered with an 8-play 47-yard drive in less than a minute. UTC closed the gap to 26-21 when Bennifield found Bagley on an 8-yard screen pass for their second connection of the game.
Neither team got much going early in the third quarter, and the Mocs took over at their 20 after their second defensive stop. On second and nine, Jireh Wilson picked off a Bennifield screen pass at the UTC 15 and returned it to the Chattanooga 5. Two plays later, Lorenzo long scored from one yard for a 33-21 lead.
UTC punted on its next possession and then came up with a huge fourth-down stop. Sophomore Derek Mahaffey stopped Long on fourth-and one to give UTC the ball at Wofford's 31. A 30-yard pass from Bennifield to junior Alphonso Stewart got the ball down to Wofford 2, but the Mocs could not get in the endzone on the next three plays.
Finally, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Bennifield found Borishade in the back of the endzone to close the gap to 33-28 with 14:55 left to play.
Chattanooga held again on fourth down on the next possession. This time senior Vantrel McMillanstopped Gay on fourth-and-two to give the Mocs the ball at their own 36. However, the Chattanooga was forced to punt after a three and out.
Marvin hit a 24-yard field goal with 2:08 left to give the Terriers a 36-28 lead. Chattanooga managed to get first-and -10 at the Wofford 29, but the Mocs could not get the equalizing score.
"Wofford made plays when they had to," added Huesman. "You have to give them credit. Both teams fought, and the team that doesn't turn the ball over usually wins the game and that's what happened today."
Bennifield finished 19-32 for 177 yards, four scores and two interceptions. Board had a game-high seven catches for 46 yards, while Craine ran 18 times for 57 yards.
Defensively, Chattanooga was led by senior Vantrel McMillan's 11 tackles. Senior Nakevion Leslieadded 10,while senior Cedric Nettles had nine stops.
Wofford put up 247 rushing yards, but was 50 shy of its option average. The Terriers came into the game ranked No. 5 in the FCS with 298 rushing yards per game. The Mocs 265 yards of total offense was a season-low, as was their 88 rushing yards.
Next up for Chattanooga is a trip to No. 1 Alabama on Saturday, Nov. 19. Kickoff is 7:00 p.m. in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on ESPN2.