Mocs run their way to victory in SoCon opener on Homecoming weekend
The Chattanooga Mocs and Western Carolina Catamounts eased into their Southern Conference shootout Saturday afternoon. After all, it was just a 7-6 lead after the first quarter for the home team. That changed in a hurry.
The Mocs scored a little more than half their total with a 31-point explosion in the second quarter. It started with Jeffrey Wood II scoring his first career touchdown and with flair befitting the sophomore speedster.
Nick Tiano threw left to senior tight end Chris James. It was a backwards pass to the recently converted former quarterback. James threw back across the field to a wide-open Wood for the score. That loosened everything up. And we mean everything.
Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks scored on 24 and 73-yard runs. Bryce Nunnelly caught a 36-yard bomb from Tiano and Victor Ulmo ended the flurry with a 34-yard field goal. In the meantime, the Catamounts scored on a fake punt that saw Caleb Ferguson scorch the turf for 69 yards along with a 2-yard plunge from Tyrie Adams.
Wood also got his first career rushing TD from 13 yards out in the third. That was sandwiched by Donnovan Spencer’s 6-yard dash and Adams’s 17-yard strike to Owen Cosenke for the Cats. The two-point conversion came off another fake and got the Catamounts within one score 44-36.
The Mocs closed hard. Ulmo hit a 38 yarder to open the period. Ailym Ford and Wood each scored on two-yard runs for the 60-36 triumph. The only thing missing was a defensive score which just eluded Mocs defensive back Aaron Floyd as he was stopped at the two off an interception inside six minutes to go, one play ahead of Wood’s third touchdown.
That was the sixth rushing TD of the day for the Mocs. If that sounds like a lot, or maybe even rare, it is in program history. It's the most in a game since scoring a school-record seven against Appalachian State on Nov. 6, 1982.
There was 1,086 yards of total offense in the game with 589 for the good guys and a shade less than 500 (497) for the Catamounts. A big key for the home team was 400 net yards rushing. There were just two negative yards on the day which was a huge for an offensive line missing senior tackle Harrison Moon as redshirt freshman Colin Truett.
"Those guys, they come to work every day," Coach Rusty Wright said about his front five. "They don't gripe and complain. They don't care that you make them go to study hall and do extra stuff. They're just great guys to be around, and they're playing really well together. It's hard. We didn't have anyone to sub for them at the end of the game.
"We have to get a couple more into it, get some freshmen some reps, and do some things to build a little more depth. I was really proud of how those guys played."