Courtesy of Chattanooga Athletics
- Now matter how it happened, it happened. The Chattanooga Mocs (5-2, 4-1 SoCon) ended one of the longest losing streaks in the FCS with a 36-28 victory against Furman (4-3, 2-2 SoCon) at Paladin Stadium this afternoon. The win snapped a 15-game losing skid to the Paladins and was done in exciting fashion.
Trailing 28-10 at the start of the final period, Chattanooga needed its largest fourth-quarter comeback in school history to secure the win. It also took another record breaking performance from junior receiver Joel Bradford (Chattanooga, Tenn.) who topped his own UTC mark with 274 yards receiving on a career high 15 catches in the game. He finished just six yards shy of the SoCon mark set by Appalachian State’s DaVon Fowlkes against Elon on Nov. 6, 2004.
Bradford’s fourth quarter touchdown reception from high school teammate, junior QB B.J. Coleman (Chattanooga, Tenn.) gave the Mocs their first lead at 29-28. Chris Awuah (Marietta, Ga.) put the exclamation point on the day 19 seconds later with the final tally in the 36-28 victory.
Coleman had a career-high 432 passing yards on 33-59 attempts and two touchdowns. However, it was a career-high four interceptions, two on deflected balls, and a season-high five turnovers for the Mocs that had them in a hole to begin with.
Furman got on the board first when Paladin Ryan Steed picked off Coleman and returned it 63 yards with 7:36 left in the first quarter. The ball was tipped at the line of scrimmage, causing it to hang up just long enough for Steed to make a play and give the home team a 7-0 lead.
Chattanooga closed the gap to 7-3 on its next possession. Sophomore PK Jeff Veres (Thompson’s Station, Tenn.) connected on a 20-yarder to make it 7-3 with 1:03 left in the opening period.
The Paladins kept the pressure on with their ensuing drive. They put together a nine-play, 62-yard march that ended with a Cody Worley 5-yard run for the 14-3 lead. With the ball at midfield, Worley’s sneak converted a fourth-and-one that kept the drive alive.
After a three-and-out on the next possession, Furman brought pressure on the punt and junior Mike Hammons (Benton, Tenn.) was forced to eat a 6-yard loss instead of risking a block. The Paladins took over on the UTC 17 scoring just three plays later to jump out to a 21-3 lead on a 17 yard Worley pass to Colin Anderson.
The Mocs took the next drive down to the end zone before an Erroll Wynn (Jonesboro, Ga.) fumble as he was crossing the goal line was recovered for a touchback by Furman. The defense held Furman to a three-and-out setting up the offense on its own 31.
Another long drive for the Mocs followed. Coleman engineered a nine-play, 69-yard scoring drive. It ended with an 11-yard strike to senior Chris Pitchford (Knoxville, Tenn.) to send Chattanooga into intermission down 21-10.
UTC dominated every aspect of the game, except the score early. Three turnovers led to 14 of the Paladins 21 points. The frustrations would continue into the third quarter.
The third of the four interceptions on the day for Coleman set up the Paladins’ fourth score. Max Lerner made the play at the UTC 45. Five plays later, Worley and Anderson hooked up again from 27 yards to take a 28-10 cushion into the fourth quarter.
Chattanooga’s never say die attitude took firm root. Sophomore J.J. Jackson (Marietta, Ga.) scored from five yards out capping an 11-play, 45-yard drive. The Mocs took advantage of a 19-yard Paladin punt to make it 28-16 after the PAT was blocked.
On the ensuing kickoff, redshirt freshman Don Cope (Maryville, Tenn.) made the play of the day. He forced a fumble by kick returner Sederrik Cunningham and recovered it at the Furman 31. It took just five plays for Wynn to score from five yards to further whittle the lead to 28-23.
The inspired defense held Furman to a three-and-out on its next possession. Coleman went back to work starting at his own 23. The Mocs scored in five plays, a popular fourth quarter number, Coleman was 4-4 on the drive before finding his favorite target, Bradford, for the nine-yard scoring toss and the 29-28 lead after the two-point conversion failed.
The Paladins kickoff return set them up at their own 26. On the very next play, sophomore Josh Williams (Griffin, Ga.) made a great hustle play gobbling up a fumbled pitch by Worley at the 11. Awuah darted around the right end to cap the 26-point fourth quarter effort.
Chattanooga out-gained Furman 568 to 227 yards. While the offense had five giveaways, the defense and special teams combined for four takeaways, three in the second half. The Mocs held the ball for 36:32 and ran 102 offensive plays to just 54 for Furman.
UTC was 11 of 21 on third-conversions for the day compared to one of 10 for the Paladins. The Mocs made nine trips into the Furman red zone scoring six times, five touchdowns.
Junior defensive tackle Nick Craig (Ooltewah, Tenn.) led the defensive effort with a career high eight stops. Junior linebacker Ryan Consiglio (Franklin, Tenn.) tied Craig for team-high honors with eight tackles of his own. Junior defensive end Chris Donald (Huntingdon, Tenn.) had six tackles with one-and-a-half sacks and two tackles for loss.
Wynn led the Mocs ground effort with 65 yards on 19 carries. Three back rushed for scores in Wynn (5 yds), Jackson (5 yds) and Awuah (11 yds). UTC had 43 rushes as a team for 136 yards.
Junior wideout Brian Sutherland (Smyrna, Ga.) added seven catches for 49 yards. Pitchford’s scoring catch was one of his four for the game for 27 yards. Bradford’s 274 receiving yards eclipsed the Paladins 227 yards of total offense.
Worley led Furman to three scores with two coming in the air and one with his legs. He completed 12 of 21 attempts for 129 yards and an interception while rushing for 16 yards and 13 carries. Mike Brown led the rushing attack for the Paladins with 58 yards on 12 totes.
Lerner and Kadarron Anderson tied for game-high honors with 13 tackles. Lerner added his interception and forced a fumble. Nathan Wade had 10 tackles, one sack and an interception. His pick was in the end zone with the Mocs driving to end the first half.
The Mocs return to Finley Stadium next Saturday to host Elon. Game time is slated for 2 p.m. The Memorial Blue and Gold Tipoff Presented by Praters will be held in the First Tennessee Pavilon during tailgating immediately after the Moc Walk at approximately 11:45 a.m.