Mocs win OT thriller at The Citadel
CHARLESTON (gomocs.com) -- The Chattanooga Mocs out-lasted The Citadel claiming a 29-28 overtime win in Southern Conference play. The ending felt like Rocky II where two heavyweight fighters swinging trying to stay off the canvas.
It was the Mocs who were left standing with an unlikely thrower (Bryce Nunnelly) and receiver (Jordan Giberti) providing the heroics. But who knew it would get to that?
The Scenic City lads scored twice in the opening period on a 76-yard strike from Nick Tiano to Nunnelly and 16-yard run through would-be tacklers by Tyrell Price. The Citadel sandwiched another Tiano-Nunnelly connection, this time from 20 yards, to send the Mocs into the break leading 21-14.
The Bulldogs opened the third quarter with a methodical 78-yard drive that ended on Lorenzo Ward's one-yard run. It ate up 8:13 of clock time and leveled the scoreboard at 21-all.
The game got a little whacky from there. A blocked punt put the Bulldogs in prime position at the Mocs 20. The defense held their hosts out of the end zone and a missed field goal gave them a good jolt for the remainder of the contest.
The Mocs missed two field goals. The Bulldogs turned it over while converting a fake punt. It was just that kind of half. The defense provided the key moment.
The Citadel took over with 7:30 to go in the game on their own 20 after intercepting Tiano in the end zone. It was a familiar refrain. Run. Run. Run. Run. Grant Drakeford crossed into UTC territory and it was first-and-10 at the 47.
Ian Hayes stopped Clay Harris after one yard. Hawk Schrider and Khayyan Edwards stuffed Jordan Black after two more. On third-and-long, Isaiah Mack and Derek Mahaffey swarmed Black as he scrambled to pass sacking him for an eight-yard loss. It was just their second play that lost yardage all night.
The Citadel got back on track taking the first snap of the extra period. Black started with a 10-yard gain to the 15. Two plays and one yard later, the Bulldogs QB found Ward for exactly the nine yards he needed. Black followed with a five-yard keeper for a 28-21 lead.
The Mocs needed just three plays. After Tiano was stopped for no gain on first down, he found Joseph Parker at the four. Price would not be denied from there for the touchdown. There was no hesitation. Coach Tom Arth sent in the 2pt conversion.
Tiano moved left, lateraled to Nunnelly who sprinted back to the right as the majority of The Citadel defense followed the misdirection. The two defenders who stayed converged on the sophomore wideout. He deftly lifted a high-arcing, slowly-moving changeup to Giberti on the right sideline. He caught the pass, made sure his feet were down and celebrated the win as his teammates converged on him in the end zone.
There was 832 yards of total offense with 452 on the Mocs side and 380 for the home team. Tiano completed 16 of 28 for 347 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Nunnelly was the recipient of 10 of those throws for 268 and both scores. Price ran 17 times for 71 yards and the other two touchdowns.
Six Bulldog backs recorded double-figure rushing yards with Harris' 70 leading the way. Black added 47 with two rushing touchdowns and another with his arm throwing for 90 in the triple option attack.
Check out all we heard at the quotes link at the top of this story.
"The 2.5 yards passing. It was a run/pass option for me. I came in motion, Nick pitched it to me and just about the whole defense all shifted to the left. Giberti was wide open. He was so open, and it took like 20 minutes to get to him. I thought please catch it, please catch it. It was a great catch by him…not a great throw by me." – Sophomore wide receiver Bryce Nunnelly when asked what was more rewarding, his 10 catches or his one pass.
"It was critical. Obviously, we made a mistake on our punt team and we paid for that. For the defense to be able to come back out and force a field goal from the one, just again was just resiliency and toughness, mentally and physically." – Coach Tom Arth on one of many key moments for the defense tonight.
Three notes from today's contest. Check out the full complement of facts and figures in the link above.
- Nunnelly fell just six yards shy of Joel Bradford's 274 on Oct. 23, 2010 at Furman. That was also a thrilling road win for the Mocs. It was also the third-most receiving yards in a SoCon game.
- The last time the Mocs started 2-0 was not that long ago. The 2016 squad opened with home wins over Shorter and Presbyterian.
- The OT win broke a six-game losing streak in bonus periods. The last win was mentioned above at Georgia Southern.
Check out the final stats at the link above. Here are three stats of note…
- Isaiah Mack had a career-high 16 tackles tonight including the half-sack on a pivotal final stop in regulation.
- Four defenders topped double digits in tackles as the Bulldogs held an 80-55 advantage in plays. Mack was joined by Marshall Cooper (15), Derek Mahaffey (11) and Khayyan Edwards (10).
- Nick Tiano threw for 347 yards. That makes back-to-back weeks with 300+ for the junior signal caller. The last time that happened on a Mocs squad? B.J. Coleman who had 432 yards at Fuman (Oct. 23) and 386 vs. Elon (Oct. 30) in 2010.
The Mocs are off to UT Martin next Saturday for a 4 p.m., Eastern time kickoff on ESPN+. The Citadel hosts Charleston Southern.