Mocs extend undefeated record, beat No. 17 Samford


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC Athletics) — The Chattanooga Mocs started fast and held strong late in a 27-20 win over No. 17 Samford Saturday night at Finley Stadium. That pushed the Mocs to 4-0 on the year, 2-0 atop the Southern Conference.

The offense scored early again this week. It built a 17-0 advantage, while the defense produced timely takeaways that thwarted the Samford offense. None was bigger than Marshall Cooper and Hawk Schrider’s effort in the first quarter.

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The Mocs led 10-0, but the Bulldogs were driving. Antwione Sims took the ball on first-and-goal at the four and drove the pile toward the end zone. Cooper stripped the ball and Schrider pounced giving the Gig City lads the ball on their own one. The offense showed their appreciation with a 99-yard, 13-play drive for the 17-0 lead.

The defense came through in the clutch three times in the fourth quarter. Interceptions by Cooper and Kareem Orr sandwiched a Devlin Hodges touchdown strike to Chris Shelling of 16 yards. It was 27-20 with 1:39 on the clock with the visitors eyeing one last push.

They started on their own 21 yard line. The Mocs did not allow the big play. Samford had to methodically march down the field and to their credit, they did. Thirteen plays, none for more than 13 yards, and Hodges had his charges to the Mocs 15 with 0:03 on the clock.

He looked to the end zone and favorite receiver Kelvin McKnight, who had 12 catches for 128 yards. McKnight lined up left rolled toward the middle of the end zone then back to the left sideline. Hodges lofted his pass to the pylon but C.J. Fritz was there to seal the win for the Mocs breaking up the game-tying attempt.

The defense had four takeaways in the contest, three interceptions and the fumble recovery. Orr and Jerrell Lawson had a game-high nine tackles apiece, while Cooper and Jordan Jones had eight each.

Tiano three for 278 yards and two scores. He’s thrown for two touchdowns in each of the first four games this season. Hodges had 366 yards on 44 of 62 passing with three interceptions. His 44 completions is a Samford record, while the completions and attempts are the most by a UTC opponent.

Chattanooga: 4-0 | 2-0 SoCon
No. 17 Samford: 1-3 | 0-2 SoCon

UTC leads the series 31-10-3…22-5-2 at home.

Check out all we heard at the quotes link at the top of this story.

“It’s important for our guys to create those opportunities. You have to play with great technique and great fundamentals. When you do those two things, you put yourself in a position to create turnovers. Tonight, that was something we talked about playing against Samford. Their quarterback is one of the best in the country. He is a guy that can slice you up. We played with great fundamentals and technique and made the most of our opportunities.” – Coach Tom Arth on importance of creating turnovers.

“Coach said we had to have it. No excuses. We’re built for it and work so hard every day for this. We told coach we weren’t coming out. We were staying in the game because we feel as if we’re the best defensive line unit in the nation. We had to have it.” – Senior Defensive Line Derek Mahaffey on grinding through Samford’s 89 offensive plays.

Three notes from today’s contest. Check out the full complement of facts and figures in the link above.
The Mocs third scoring drive tied a record. It went the distance, 99 yards after Hawk Schrider’s fumble recovery at the 1. The 13th and scoring play was an 18-yard pass from Nick Tiano to Tyrell Price. It’s the longest drive on record topping the 13-play, 98-yard drive at Western Carolina on Nov. 3, 2012.
Last ranked win was at No. 8 Samford last season – 23-21 on Oct. 28, 2017.
10 straight red-zone scores for the Mocs with six touchdowns and four field goals. That dates back to The Citadel win in overtime.

Check out the final stats at the link above. Here are three stats of note…
School-record fourth straight 100-yard receiving game for Nunnelly. He ended up with 108 yards on five catches. He’s caught five or more balls in all four contests and has 30 for the season. Last year’s SEASON leader was Bingo Morton with 39. His 654 receiving yards is 216 higher than 2017 season leader Alphonso Stewart (438).
Defense had four takeaways tonight – three interceptions and one fumble. That makes 11 total on the year.
The Bulldogs entered the game allowing just two sacks and five QB hurries in their first three contests including the narrow loss at Florida State. UTC had one sack (Hawk Schrider) and eight hurries (Isaiah Mack-3).

The Mocs are back on the road at ETSU next weekend with a 7:30 p.m., start in Johnson City.