The Chattanooga Mocs battled back from an early two-touchdown deficit before succumbing to a 37-14 defeat to No. 2 James Madison on Davenport Field Saturday evening. It was a disappointing second-half finish after a first quarter flurry put the Mocs in good position.

JMU looked like it would put the game away early. Two scoring drives offensively and three-and-outs defensively made it look like a long day for the home team.

The offense settled in. Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks broke tackles on a key third down catch-and-run for 21 yards into JMU territory. Two plays later, Nick Tiano spotted Bryce Nunnelly for 13 more yards to the 19. Another two and Chris James caught a 19-yard strike from Tiano for the Mocs first score.

Thomas Burks’ ensuing kickoff was bobbled by the JMU return group and Rashun Freeman pounced on the loose ball. Tiano hit Reginald Henderson on a 31-yard toss to the Dukes two. Tiano bulled his way in behind the right-side of the offensive front for a 14-14 score. The two touchdowns were a freaky-fast 22 seconds apart.

The defense also held strong. JMU continued to attack, but the Mocs would not break. Two field goals by the visitors sent the Chattanooga contingent into the locker room down 20-14.

There was no comeback from there. The offense managed 98 yards in the second half. The defense held JMU to an early field goal before touchdowns on a 48-yard screen pass from Ben DiNucci to Brandon Polk and a 1-yard plunge by Percy Agyei-Obese ended the scoring.

"That's what good football teams do,” Coach Rusty Wright shared. “They figure out ways to win. We have to quit shooting ourselves in the foot early. When you play guys like this and Jacksonville State, everything is magnified. Everything. You can't make mistakes because that's what good football teams do, they take the second-half kickoff and drive down and get points.

“I knew it was going to be tough and I'm not faulting our players at all, they fought their butts off. They fought really hard, that was a physical football game out there today."

The Mocs had 245 yards of total offense with Tiano completing 12 of 26 passes for 161 yards with the touchdown and an interception. His counterpart DiNucci was 19 of 25 for 264 yards and a score. Agyei-Obese led all rushers with 114 yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns.