(GoMocs.com)- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team put up a valiant effort at No. 1 Alabama tonight. The Mocs fought hard on both sides of the ball in a 31-3 loss to the undefeated Crimson Tide. UTC ends the regular season with an 8-3 record, while Alabama improves to 11-0.
Chattanooga's defense, ranked No. 5 in the FCS coming into the game, held Alabama to just 332 yards of total offense, its second-lowest output of the season. The Tide's 31 points and 136 passing yards were also its second-lowest totals of the year.
"I thought our guys played hard with a lot of energy and excitement," said head coach Russ Huesman. "It was really physical out there, and I am really proud of how our guys fought. I think that every one of our players played hard."
The Mocs kept Alabama off the scoreboard for the first 15 minutes game, taking a 3-0 lead into the first quarter break. Senior Henrique Ribeiro put Chattanooga up with a 47-yard field goal with 5:22 left in the opening quarter. Ribeiro's make was the 44th of his career, tying Matt Vick (1997-00) for the school-record for makes. Chattanooga drove the ball 50 yards in 10 plays for that score.
"Offensively, we got some first downs," said Huesman. "I remember playing them here in 2013 and barely recording a first down."
Alabama answered with a seven-play, 75-yard drive of its own, capped by a Calvin Ridley 47-yard catch from Jalen Hurts two plays into the second quarter.
UTC moved the ball in the first half, and played tough defense throughout. A few mistakes led to easy Alabama points, including the Tide's second score of the game.
After forcing a punt, senior C.J. Board got tangled up with a blocking Alex Trotter and could not come up with the catch. Alabama recovered on the UTC nine. Chattanooga didn't let them in for three plays, but Hurts finally scored on fourth-and-goal from the one when he found Gehrig Dieter in the endzone. The 14-3 deficit held for the rest of the half.
The Mocs crossed midfield on its first possession of the second half, but that was the only sustained drive for the offense after the break. However, the defense continued to play well, allowing just one score in the third quarter.
After a field goal by Alabama to open the fourth frame, UTC looked like it was going to hold the Tide to under 30 points. However, the Mocs fumbled on its 20 and Alabama closed the scoring four plays later.
UTC finished with 184 yards of total offense, more than Kent State (166), Kentucky (161), Tennessee (131) and LSU (125) had against the Tide. The Mocs 70 rushing yards were more than USC (64), Western Kentucky (23), Tennessee (32) and LSU (33) had against Alabama this season.
"We just played hard," said senior defensive end Keionta Davis. "Everyone did their assignments. We had a few mistakes here and there, and it cost us, but for the most part we played hard. We fought and hung in there."
Chattanooga now turns its attention to the FCS Selection Show on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. (E.S.T.) on ESPNU. Be sure to check back to GoMocs.com for complete information on the FCS Playoffs.