After trailing 13-0 at the break, the No. 10 ranked Chattanooga Mocs football team used the fourth-largest comeback in school history to post a 24-16 victory over rival ETSU to capture the Rail Rivalry trophy for the third straight meeting on a rainy Saturday afternoon in Johnson City, Tennessee.
Following the win, Chattanooga improves to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in SoCon play. ETSU falls to 2-3 overall and 0-3 in league action after the loss.
“Execution. Execution. We executed about as poorly as a group could execute in the first half, in every phase of the game,” said head coach Rusty Wright.
“But I mean, we talked about it all week. We talked about coming in here, in this place. We talked about having composure, confidence and execute. My group was the most composed football team out there, all night long, as bad as stuff got, they just kept playing.”
ETSU received the opening kick and went 81 yards in just seven plays in just 3:03, capped off by a 36-yard touchdown run from Bryson Irby to go up 7-0 early at the 11:57 mark. The Bucs would extend the lead to 10-0 after a 32-yard field goal was successful after hitting the left upright with 3:38 left in the first.
The home team connected on another FG (33 yards) after a defensive stop from the UTC squad to go up 13-0 with 7:54 left in the half. Both teams went scoreless for the rest of the half and the separation remained 13-0 in favor of the Bucs headed into the locker rooms.
While it was all ETSU in the first half, it was completely Chattanooga in the second. The Mocs held the Bucs to just 44 total second half yards including 10 yards on the ground while forcing ETSU to an 0-for-8 count on third downs. UTC amassed 271 yards of total offense in the half with 127 on the ground and 144 through the air, converting 6-of-8 third down opportunities.
Chattanooga scored its first points of the game after a 13-play, 54-yard drive led to a 37-yard Andrew Southard field goal with 3:08 left in the third, cutting the deficit to 13-3. Ailym Ford cashed in with a nine-yard touchdown run four minutes later, capping off a six-play, 53-yard drive to bring the tally to 13-10 with 14:22 left in the final frame.
Preston Hutchinson found Jamoi Mayes in the back corner of the endzone on a 11-yard touchdown throw and catch to give the Mocs its first lead of the game, 17-13 at the 10:38 mark in the fourth. ETSU answered with a 31-yard field goal to pull within one at 17-16 (7:10).
UTC was knocking on the doorstep under the two-minute mark and later saw Ford power his way in for his second touchdown of the game to extend the lead to 24-16 with just 1:11 left in the game. The Mocs defense stood tall and closed out its third straight win over ETSU in the Rail Rivalry series.