Chattanooga Mocs Football Fall Flat In Season Finale

A bright, sunny fall day that started with plenty of promise ended in misery for the Chattanooga Mocs Saturday as they fell in the season finale 24-21 to the visiting Citadel. Most likely the outcome of the game indeed ends the season for the team as it puts any chance of making the post season in doubt.

There was a lot to celebrate Saturday besides the nice weather. It was Senior Day as the school honored the senior class members of the team. And that was not all. It was Armed Forces say as the school honored all branches of the military during the course of the game. Too bad the team couldn’t put the perfect of bow on the gift of the day by delivering a victory and almost an assured bid into the postseason.

The Citadel would have nothing to do with it.

Two plays into the game it looked like it was going to be another route for Chattanooga. Senior Tyrell Price went off left tackle and ran 75 yards to give Chattanooga the early lead. And with the way Chattanooga’s defense has played the entire season this looked like it would be an easy on seeing The Citadel was a near bottom feeder in the conference.

But it was an upside down game and nothing played out like it should. It was an ugly game all round by both teams. Chattanooga’s defense, who had been tough all season, one of the conference’s best had trouble making tackles as evidenced in The Citadel’s opening drive. While it took UTC only two plays to score on their opening drive, The Citadel set the pace for the game with a 15 play 71 yard drive that ended with QB Jaylan Adams running in from four yards out.

Under center for the Mocs all say was senior Drayton Arnold. Despite him being a senior, it was a mistake for Chattanooga. To be honest, both quarterbacks were disastrous Saturday. Both teams featured running quarterbacks, something I have never been a fan. I had a discussion a few days earlier with one of my colleagues about this very argument.

There is a big difference between a running quarterback and a mobile quarterback. A mobile quarterback uses his feet to keep the play alive looking for an open receiver and only runs as a last instance. A running quarterback looks for an excuse to run. I can give you many examples about this in the NFL, but this is a story about Chattanooga football.

It was an ugly game for both quarterbacks as combined they complete a total of eight passes – four on each side. The Citadel, who had an amazing 81 offensive plays compared to Chattanooga’s 46 only threw the ball eight times.

With the score tied 7-7in the second quarter Arnold fumbled trying to run for the first down with The Citadel recovering on the Chattanooga 32. Five consecutive running play gave the visitors a third down and three from the Chattanooga 9. Adams completed one of his four passes over the middle to Summie Carlay for the score and a 14-7 lead.

Chattanooga struck back quickly with a vengeance. Arnold complete two passes in a row to get the Mocs to midfield. Ailym Ford then barreled up the middle for 32 yards. Two plays later he scored over left tackle from nine yards out to even the score.

The Citadel then mounted a drive of their own. Driving down to the UTC 29 and facing a fourth-and-one they went for it turning the ball back over to the Mocs with 40 seconds to go in the half. During the first half The Citadel went for it on fourth down no matter how many yards they needed or field position, which was kind of odd. They did not punt until the second half

Aided by a pass interference call the Mocs had the ball around midfield. An 11-yard run by Price gave the Mocs a first down in Citadel territory. With the half closing in Pryor completed a pass over the middle to Kanore McKinnon for 38 yards to The Citadel five. Ford took the ball over with six seconds remaining in the half to give the Mocs the lead 21-14, a lead they held unitl midway through the fourth.

At the half Arnold had 76 yards passing and for the rest of the game only gained another 18 yards through the air.

The Citadel took the second half kickoff and drove 62 yards in 18 plays taking 9:58 off the clock as they settled for a 37-yard field goal to make the score 21-17.

Both teams exchanged two three-and outs. The big difference in the game was a punt by The Citadel’s Colby Kinter who really changed the field possession for the Mocs as he hit a 79 yard punt from his 19 giving the Mocs the ball at their two, something the Mocs never really recovered.

A lot of mistakes started happening for the Mocs on the next series and for the rest of the game that cost them the game. With Ford and Price running over Citadel defenders the Mods looked to be climbing out of the hole they had dug for themselves by not fielding the punt.

With a first down at their 32, Price rushed for a three-yard gain, but an unnecessary roughness call moved the ball back 15 yards and the Moc were eventually forced to punt from their 28.

With 6:46 to go in the game Sam Llewellyn broke free on a 57-yard run to give The Citadel the lead with 6:10 to play.

Things looked like they were going to go UTC’s way as the kicoff was returned to their 40 and an offside penalty on The Citadel moved the ball up to the Chattanooga 45. Ford went over left tackle for an 11 yard gain but the run was negated by a holding call. Arnold then threw deep down the middle but was intercepted on The Citadel three-yard line by Dominick Poole.

The Citadel was able to dig out from the shadows of their goal post thanks to a personal foul following a six-yard run by Adams. The Mocs defense stiffened up and forced a punt with 2:02 to paly as they took over with 2:37 to play. With the ball on their 27, the Mocs handed the ball off to Price who got the ball up to the Chattanooga 45. Arnold was intercepted for the second time on the next play. In the fourth quarter Arnold complete more passes to The Citadel (2) than he did his own teammates (0).

Still with 1:50 remaining and one timeout, the Mocs were looking for a miracle. No such luck. On The Citadel’s first play from scrimmage Adams ran for 20 yards giving the visitors a first down at the Chattanooga 40. On the next play, Llewellyn fan for three yards, but another personal foul call on the Mocs ended any chance they had of pulling off a miracle. With a first down at the Chattanooga 22, The Citadel was able to take a couple of knees and run out the clock to upset the Mocs.

The Mocs end their season at 6-5. All but the season opening loss were by three or four points.

The Mocs offense looked predictable all day and was the reason for the loss. The defense wasn’t any better, but for the majority of the season they held the team together. They gave up eight points more than they averaged all season and the one time the offense could have had their back they didn’t.

The Mocs were out-rushed 330 to 230. Neither team passed for 100 yards. Arnold’s three turnovers basically lost the game for Chattanooga. There was no explanation why Cole Copeland was left on the sideline all game. It was understandable why Arnold may have gotten the start since it was Senior Day, but his inability to hit a open receiver (4-of-15 for 94 yards and two interception) hut Chattanooga. The offensive play calling for the Mocs was hideous as well. It consisted of mainly two plays – Price over the middle and Ford over left tackle.

The Mocs will have a lot to mull over this winter as the loss most likely eliminated them for any consideration for the FCS playoffs. Also with a loss of many key players to graduation they will need a great signing class. Let’s just hope they don’t show any potential recruits this game tape.

– Dave Weinthal