(GOMOCS.COM) CHATTANOOGA—The No. 3 Chattanooga Mocs kept their perfect record intact with a 52-31 Homecoming win over Mercer Saturday afternoon. The Mocs amassed 531 yards in rising to 6-0 overall, 4-0 atop the Southern Conference standings. It’s the first 6-0 start since 1968.
“It was a great win,” Russ Huesman noted. “I thought the first half was probably as good of a first half as we’ve ever played here in all three phases – offense, defense and special teams. If you can play like that and get to that point (38-3 halftime), it’s hard for teams to come back.
“Obviously, the second half got a little sloppy. I would have liked to play a little better, but we’ll take it. It was a great win…6-0 and 4-0 is all that matters.”
Junior quarterback Alejandro Bennifield accounted for five touchdowns. His four touchdown passes went to four different receivers, and he added a 21-yard run in the third quarter.
The Mocs took control early and never looked back. They scored on all six first half drives and seven of the first eight to build a 45-10 lead on Bennifield’s jaunt. On the ensuing drive, Montrell Pardue collected a John Russ offering returning it 29 yards for his second career score and end the Mocs’ scoring.
“Trevor (Wright) made a great play on the ball,” Pardue said. “I just happened to be out in the flat, took advantage and ran it in.”
Derrick Craine tallied his third 100-yard game of the season, 10th of his career, rumbling for 160 yards with 151 coming in the first half. He had one score from 54 yards out, the longest run of his career, breaking five tackles en route to the end zone.
Bennifield threw for 258 yards and ran for another 27. He hit nine different receivers on the day with Xavier Borishade (96 yards) and C.J. Board (87) each catching seven. The duo joined tight ends Malcolm Colvin and Bailey Lenoir catching TD passes.
“We executed pretty well,” Bennifield shared. “We had 52 points, so you can’t really complain when you score 52. We could have been better in certain spots. The four touchdowns, I have to give credit to the receivers and tight ends, they made great plays, ran good routes, I just put it up to them.”
Nakevion Leslie and Pardue led the defensive effort. Leslie had a game-high 13 stops, while Pardue made eight tackles, two for 11 yards lost, two pass breakups and the pick-6.
John Russ completed 18 of 28 passes for the Bears with a touchdown and two interceptions going for 222 yards. Chandler Curtis was his favorite target with seven catches for just 30 yards. Marquise Irvin had four receptions for 139 yards including an 83-yarder down the right sideline in the third quarter.
Alex Lakes ran for 51 yards on seven totes with one touchdown. Russ also added a late score in the fourth quarter.
The Mocs head to Charleston, S.C., for a battle of ranked teams at The Citadel on Fox Sports SE. The Bulldogs are 5-0, 3-0 in league play. Access links to audio (Mocs Sports Network on 96.1 the Legend) and live stats on GoMocs.com’s football schedule page.