Mocs fade in second half as they lose 35-20 to #13 Furman
The Chattanooga Mocs battled toe-to-toe with No. 13 Furman before falling 35-20. It was a tough loss in a pivotal Southern Conference matchup.
Nick Tiano’s 4-yard hookup with Chris James and subsequent 2pt conversion for the duo made it a 28-20 contest with just over six minutes to play in the game. The touchdown came after Tiano’s fourth-down completion to Bryce Nunnelly extended the drive inside the 10.
The defense, which turned the Paladins over twice in the first quarter, and had the better of it for three quarters, could not get the stop it needed. The visitors ran three straight times for nine yards. On fourth-and-1, Devin Abrams plunged over right guard for two yards and the first down.
The running game churned clock time and another third-down went to the defense, but there were just 15 seconds remaining. The Paladins ran to the right side again, Abrams looked like his forward momentum had been held up short, but he kept is legs moving breaking free for a 31-yard touchdown run for the final score.
“Those last two (scoring) drives, we were in position to make plays,” sophomore linebacker Ty Boeck shared. “We just didn’t tackle well, that’s on us.”
It was a see-saw battle. The Mocs built a 9-0 lead early on a Victor Ulmo 23-yard field goal and Tiano’s three-yard keeper. Abrams got Furman on the board late in the second quarter from the one. Hamp Sisson capped a quick 80-yard drive with an eight-yard dash for a 14-9 advantage with 26 seconds to go in the half.
That looked like the halftime score to everyone but Ailym Ford and the Mocs offensive front. He sped around left end 57 yards to the Furman 18. That run put him over the 1,000-yard mark for the season. The Mocs took a couple of shots into the end zone but settled for Ulmo’s 32nd career field goal and a 14-12 deficit.
The key play of the third quarter came from the foot of Grayson Atkins. His 62-yard punt was downed at the UTC 2. Three plays later, the Mocs pinned at their 1 with no room to maneuver, a 31-yard punt was answered with a 32-yard Sisson connection to Ryan Miller.
"You have to go play,” Coach Rusty Wright shared when asked about the difference in halves. “I didn't yell or scream or anything, because I thought we should have been ahead. I just said hey, let's figure out a way to win it.
“They made plays in the second half and we didn't. They went and made some things happen, we didn't. We never could get going, they kept punting us back and keeping us deep. We didn't make plays when we had to make plays. We have to learn how to find a way to finish.”
Tiano was quick to take some of that back from his coach.
“I think we missed opportunities against a really good team…similar to last week,” he acknowledged. “When we had opportunities to score especially when the defense gave us some turnovers, we have to go and put six points on that board. I think that's what we'll look back at the most from this game."