Chattanooga Wins Homecoming – Where Were You?

The Chattanooga Mocs offense was impressive in winning their Homecoming football game Saturday afternoon. Too bad you weren’t there. Too bad there weren’t that many people there at all. And that is a disgrace.

It was a sparse crowd for Homecoming and I know in writing this I stand the chance of having my credentials revoked. I don’t care because I’m not going to candy coat it – I’m calling out you guys for not supporting the home team.

When the University of Chattanooga joined the Tennessee state system in 1969 going from a private to public institute they knew they would forever be the little brother of Knoxville in sports now matter how successful. The football program, a FCS school and other small organizations before as well has been hit and miss since its inception. While the revered Scappy Moore still has stuff bearing his name and is the winningest coach in the school’s history on won 57 percent of his games. It’s been a mixed bag since he retired. And despite his mediocre overall record he did record a legendary win over the Vols in 1958.

That being said the sports administration has always been willing to take a backseat to big brother and that’s unfortunate. If your own school doesn’t respect the team why should anyone else? And it shows by the apathy in home game attendance. Sure, during the Russ Huesman era they drew record crowds at Finely Stadium, but nowhere close to the 21,000-plus seats there. The facility never delivered what they promised even though it was the host for many years of the 1-AA (now FCS) Championship Game, but lost it after the 2008 championship. One of the reasons was because there was trouble selling tickets in Chattanooga. They threatened at one point to move the game and there was a push to sell tickets locally to save the game – which they did once. Excuses were made that a number of the teams in the championship games did not have fans that “traveled well”. Excuses. It’s an actual championship game and ESPN was here as well as media outlets from all over the country. Chattanooga at the time just didn’t give a good impression. Let us not forget “Turf-Gate” when the natural turf was on the field came up in clumps and it made national news. That was fixed the next year but every year more and new excuses were made as to why no one was coming to the game. After the hosting came up for bid after the 2008 season it was moved to Texas.

All this being said the administration has done their best during football season to make sure there is no scheduling conflicts. And by that I mean Chattanooga kickoffs do not conflict with UT’s kickoffs and TV schedules. Last week Chattanooga’s game as this one started at 4pm. The Tennessee-Florida game’s kickoff was noon. Theoretically local folks could watch UT then come to the Chattanooga game. It really didn’t work. Homecoming looked like a perfect storm for the Chattanooga Mocs, however.

The weekend of Homecoming saw not only Tennessee, but also Georgia have bye weeks – the two most rabid fan base in the SEC around here minus Alabama. Locally Alabama fans only watch the games on TV – usually on in primetime whereas Vols and Bulldogs fans make the road trip to the games. The only other SEC team in the area playing close by was Vanderbilt, and to be honest who watches Vanderbilt?




I feel bad for the kids on the field playing the game to a bunch of empty seats not only this week but almost every week. People don’t realize what it takes to play football. The sport is way different from just playing catch in the yard or the sandlot games we all played as a kid. There are tons of practice, learning, calculating and recalculating going into getting ready to play a game. Fans only see the end result of all the blood, sweat and tears. They have no idea was goes into getting a team ready and for each player gameday ready. And like a bunch of spoiled brats they boo or ignore the guys or think they could actually do better. All of which is, of course a joke.

Adding to the trouble is lack of proper recognition and promotion of the powers that be. Chattanooga is a unique city when it comes to its local teams. Unlike other cities – almost every city to be honest, you can’t just open the doors and expect people to come in. Admitting to being second fiddle to regional SEC teams, many seem to lack respect for the Mocs’ many sports programs, many of whom are very successful or were for a long time until recently.

Football is one of those sports that will usually make a fortune for the institution, but not in Chattanooga for some reason. That is baffling consider despite all negative press football has gotten in recent years it still is the biggest draw to the school – and any school for that matter. Despite it’s mantra to buy local in Chattanooga, the city rarely supports local music and sports outside of high school. You would think the Lookouts would sell out every game since they seat just over 5,400 but the big crowds don’t come unless they’re giving away used cars or blowing something up. That is the reason they have fireworks every Friday night for the gratuitous crowd. It’s a shame since for the Lookouts since there are a ton of MLB superstars that have played at AT&T Field as recently as last year and going back over a half century. But this is about the Mocs’s football team and why nobody really comes to the games.


The first mantra in business is simple (besides paying your employees and taxes) – in order to make money you have to spend money. The university’s sports program have been the most frugally run programs out there. They have lost coaches because they refuse to competitively pay them, they won’t invest in recruiting either. There are many horror stories out there about what some coaches went through. Despite the frugality of the university the basketball teams (both men’s and women) have been largely successful including a Division II National Championship in 1977, leading the program to to make the jump to Division I where under Murray Arnold, the men’s 1982-83 team climbed into the Top 15 (peaking at either 11 or 13, I don’t recall exactly). The football program came ot national attention under the recruiting of former New York Giants running back Joe Morrison and took a decidedly downturn when he left for New Mexico State (where?) in 1980. It wasn’t until Russ Huesman took the reigns in 2009 that the team saw a revival in not only success, but attendance. They marketed the team with “Restore the Glory”, the most aggressive campaign in recent history and quire frankly it paid off.

And now to the game. The Mocs had been reeling after a trio of losses to greater opponents (#18 Jacksonville State, Tennessee Vols and #2 James Madison), but with it being Homecoming and the Western Carolina Catamounts coming to Finely Stadium it was a recipe for a barnburner.

Chattanooga won handily 60-36, their largest offensive output since 2017’s win over VMI 63-7. The game wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination as very little defense was played o both sides of the field and special teams play for Chattanooga made one shake one’s head.

Rashun Freeman got things going early for the Mocs intercepting Will Jones’ pass to give the Mocs a first down at the Western Carolina 42. Chattanooga wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. Staying on the ground the whole time Chattanooga cashed in on Ailym Ford’s nine-yard run. That’s when the special teams issues began. Instead of kicking the extra point Chattanooga opted for a two-point try and failed. It wasn’t long for special teams to mess up again.

Western Carolina mounted their own impressive drive a couple drives that stalled at the Chattanooga 14. The first faux pas by special teams took place as holder Curtis Roach grabbed the ball and ran up the middle for a first and goal. One play later QB Will Jones scored on a quarterback sneak that gave the Catamounts an ever so brief 7-6 lead.

Mixing pass and runs effectively the Mocs marched right back down and took the lead back on a 28-yard completion by Chris James to Jeffery Wood.


A really short punt by Western Carolina saw them back in the driver’s seat using just four plays to extend their lead on a 24-yard run by Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks. From that point on the Mocs offense was off to the races. Except for the fact special teams got a little too complacent. The Catamount drive quickly stalled at their own 31 when they went in punt formation. The Mocs looked as if they were thinking punt return and not paying attention to the punter. Caleb Ferguson took the snap and saw nothing but open field in front of him. He ran up the middle and kept going scoring from 69 yards out to make the score 20-14.

Ibitokun-Hanks then broke a run for 73 yards for another touchdown. And with 8:08 left in the half he had already run for over 100 yards.

With the score 27-20 Ford found a few good holes to pound through before Nick Tiano hit Bryce Nunnelly from 36 yards out.

Getting the ball back following an interception with only 45 seconds to go in the half Tiano put on quite a show. After a nice gain by Ford, the senior QB hit Andrew Manning and Tyrin Summers before hitting Nunnelly again, this time for 45 yards to set up a Victor Ulmo 34-yard field goal to make it 37-21 at the half.

Both teams were off and running in the second half scoring four touchdowns collectively in their first four series. There wasn’t much defense to talk about on this day as the Mocs had two running back going over 1000 yards with Ford leading the way with 195yards as the Mocs ground out almost 600 yards of total offense. The Catamounts put up almost 500 yards of total offense with 423 coming on the ground. It was Chattanooga’s passing game and turnovers that were the difference. Western Carolina passed for less than 100 yards and threw three interceptions while the Mocs threw for 189 yards, two touchdowns and only one interception.




I mentioned special teams issues earlier but with a blow out win I guess I shouldn’t complain too much. Besides the fake field goal and punt Ulmo kicked two kickoffs out of bounds giving Western Carolina really nice field possession. I guess I can give him a little slack since he was perfect on two field goal attempts and had nine (!) kickoffs to deal with.

With the final score of 60-34 it was an ideal Homecoming outcome. But how come you weren’t there? The Chattanooga Mocs offense was impressive in winning their Homecoming football game Saturday afternoon. Too bad you weren’t there. Too bad there weren’t that many people there at all. And that is a disgrace.

It was a sparse crowd for Homecoming and I know in writing this I stand the chance of having my credentials revoked. I don’t care because I’m not going to candy coat it – I’m calling out you guys for not supporting the home team.


When the University of Chattanooga joined the Tennessee state system in 1969 going from a private to public institute they knew they would forever be the little brother of Knoxville in sports now matter how successful. The football program, a FCS school has been hit and miss since its inception with interest of local fans. While the revered Scappy Moore still has stuff bearing his name and is the winningest coach in the school’s history, he only won 57 percent of his games. It’s been a mixed bag since he retired. And despite his mediocre overall record he did record a legendary win over the Vols in 1958.

That being said the sports administration has always been willing to take a backseat to big brother and that’s unfortunate. If your own school doesn’t respect the team why should anyone else? And it shows by the apathy in home game attendance. Sure, during the Russ Huesman era they drew record crowds at Finely Stadium, but nowhere close to the 21,000-plus seats there. The facility never delivered what they promised even though it was the host for many years of the 1-AA (now FCS) Championship Game, but lost it after the 2008 championship. One of the reasons was because there was trouble selling tickets in Chattanooga to the game. They threatened at one point to move the game and there was a push to sell tickets locally to save the game – which they did once. Excuses were made that a number of the teams in the championship games did not have fans that “traveled well”. Excuses. It’s an actual championship game and ESPN was here as well as media outlets from all over the country. Chattanooga at the time just didn’t give a good impression. Let us not forget “Turf-Gate” when the natural turf was on the field came up in clumps and it made national news. That was fixed the next year but every year more and new excuses were made as to why no one was coming to the game. After the hosting came up for bid after the 2008 season it was moved to Texas.

All this being said the administration has done their best during football season to make sure there are no scheduling conflicts. And by that I mean Chattanooga kickoffs do not conflict with UT’s kickoffs and TV schedules. Last week Chattanooga’s game as this one started at 4pm. The Tennessee-Florida game’s kickoff was noon. Theoretically local folks could watch UT then come to the Chattanooga game. It really didn’t work. Homecoming looked like a perfect storm for the Chattanooga Mocs, however.

The weekend of Homecoming saw not only Tennessee, but also Georgia have bye weeks – the two most rabid fan base in the SEC around here minus Alabama. Locally Alabama fans only watch the games on TV – usually on in primetime whereas Vols and Bulldogs fans make the road trip to the games. The only other SEC team in the area playing close by was Vanderbilt, and to be honest who watches Vanderbilt?

I feel bad for the kids on the field playing the game to a bunch of empty seats not only this week but also almost every home game. People don’t realize what it takes to play football. The sport is way different from just playing catch in the yard or the sandlot games we all played as a kid. There are tons of practice, learning, calculating and recalculating going into getting ready to play a game. Fans only see the end result of all the blood, sweat and tears. They have no idea was goes into getting a team ready and for each player gameday ready. And like a bunch of spoiled brats they boo or ignore the guys or think they could actually do better. All of which is, of course is a joke – a bad one at that.


With the win the Mocs improve their record to 2-3 and 1-0 in the Southern Conference. Saturday the Mocs travel to Mercer for another Southern Conference game before a bye week. They return home for one of those “special” Thursday night games on the 17th to play heated conference rival East Tennessee State. A special promotion for the game is called the “White Out”. The Mocs will suit up in all white uniforms and fans are encouraged to dress in white as well. You have no excuses to miss the game since Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama will be playing Saturday of that week and not Thursday like to Mocs.

– Dave Weinthal