The Chattanooga Mocs kept their early Southern Conference record spotless with a 34-17 triumph at Mercer Saturday evening. It was a dominating performance after a slow start.

The Bears took the opening drive in for a touchdown on Robert Riddle’s 14-yard connection with Steven Peterson. After a stalled drive, the Mocs took advantage of stout defense.

Ty Boeck forced a Deondre Johnson fumble after Colin Brewer pinned the Bears at their 10-yard line. Two plays later, Nick Tiano hit Bryce Nunnelly in the corner of the end zone to tie the score.

Johnson immediately answered for the Bears. He returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards, but it was all Chattanooga from there.

Ailym Ford tied the game in the second quarter sprinting eight yards through a gaping hole in the left side of the line. Victor Ulmo gave the Mocs the lead for good with a 21-yard field goal to end the period. It was a quarter that saw the hosts muster negative-3 yards on just seven plays.

Tiano and Chris James ended the opening drive of the second half with a 1-yard pass on fourth down. A 14-14 game became 24-10 in the span of two possessions. Ulmo made it 20 unanswered points later in the quarter with a 36-yard effort.

Mercer managed a field goal to open fourth-quarter play. But Tiano put the exclamation point on the win with a 11-yard scramble to his right. That ended the scoring in a 34-17 game. The play of the game may have been the open-field tackle at his own 10 by Jerrell Lawson at the end of the third quarter that forced the Mercer field goal.

“That is the difference in these games,” Coach Rusty Wright shared. “People have to make plays and we have to make stops when we are supposed to make them. That is the difference in the football game.”

The Mocs were plus-3 on takeaways forcing four fumbles, recovering three, while also intercepting a pass. The Bears managed just 29 rushing yards, the lowest output since they re-instated the program in 2013.

Ford had his second straight 100-yard rushing game. He totaled 116 yards on 32 carries. Jeffrey Wood II added 74 on nine totes. Tiano was an efficient 18 of 31 for 190 yards with two touchdowns, a third rushing, and an interception.