Two-point gamble gives Mocs overtime win at Citadel, 25-24

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (UTC Athletics) — Every time these two teams meet, it seems to go down to the wire. For the third year in a row, the Chattanooga Mocs gutted out a one-point win against The Citadel. This time the 18th-ranked Mocs needed a two-point conversion in overtime to take down the Bulldogs 25-24 at Johnson Hagood Stadium in Charleston, S.C.

After allowing The Citadel to score 10 unanswered points in the second half to tie the game at 17-17 at the end of regulation, Chattanooga needed one more play in OT to get the win. Senior QB Drayton Arnold hit sophomore TE Jay Gibson on a shovel pass in the middle to convert the game-winning, two-point conversion.

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The Mocs improved to 2-1 overall and 2-0 in Southern Conference action with the win. The Bulldogs dropped to 0-6 on the year and 0-2 in league play. UTC and VMI are the only two 2-0 teams in the league following today’s action.

The game-winning play almost did not happen if it weren’t for a pass interference call on fourth-and-10 from the 25 a few plays earlier. Senior WR Reggie Henderson drew the flag in the endzone, keeping the overtime drive alive.

The Citadel had already scored on its first possession of OT, meaning the Mocs needed to get to the endzone to keep playing. After the flag, senior RB Tyrell Price put together runs of six and four yards to cross the goal line. The offensive line nearly moved the Bulldogs’ defense to the back on the endzone on the final play.

Chattanooga’s defense was tough all game, only allowing 230 yards of total offense. A pair of turnovers and two failures on fourth down in The Citadel territory kept the Bulldogs in the game.

Junior Ty Boeck led the Mocs with a game-high 11 tackles. Junior Devonnsha Maxwell added a career-high 10 stops and tied a career mark with two sacks. Sophomore Jay Person tied a career high with nine tackles, while senior Jerrell Lawson added eight. Senior Brandon Dowdell had two PBUs to lead the secondary.

After leading 17-7 at the half, the Mocs took the ball to start the third period. Chattanooga had fourth-and-one at The Citadel 32 on their opening possession but did not convert. They also had fourth-and-three at the Bulldogs’ 21 and could not get the first down on the ensuing possession. UTC’s next two possessions ended with a fumble and an interception to keep The Citadel in the game.

The first half was a much different story, with UTC looking sharp early. The Mocs opened their first possession with a big play on first down from their own 25. Arnold found Tyus over the middle for a 75-yard touchdown catch and run. It was the longest pass play for Arnold and the longest catch for Tyus, giving Chattanooga a quick 7-0 lead.

After forcing anther punt, UTC marched down the field to score again before the end of the opening period. Senior RB Tyrell Price capped off an 11-play, 82-yard drive with a six yard run. That score gave UTC a 14-0 lead with 54 seconds left in the first.

The Citadel answered with just over three minutes left in the half, but the Mocs were able to get one more score before the break. Facing a fourth-and-15 from The Citadel 33, Arnold found Kanore McKinnon for 18 yards over the middle to The Citadel 15. Freshman Skylar Wilson hit the field goal to give Chattanooga a 17-7 lead at the break.

Arnold finished 11-20 passing for 220 yards, a TD and an INT. Price led the running game with 66 yards and two TDs on 16 carries. Tyus posted 88 yards and score on two catches.

RECORDS – Chattanooga (2-1, 2-0 SoCon) | The Citadel (0-6, 0-2 SoCon)

SERIES – Chattanooga leads 33-19-2

QUOTABLE
“As soon as they scored and kicked the extra point, I told Pizzo you get four plays and a two-point conversion. Let’s go.” – Head coach Rusty Wright on the decision to go for two in overtime.

“Coach Wright has completely changed this program and we are all about mental toughness. We all fight. I know everyone on offense, defense, all of us, I know we are going to go to bat and we are going to go down swinging. We have a good bunch here.” – Senior OL Harrison Moon on the mental toughness of the team.

“It was honestly for Chris James, but Chris wasn’t able to play, so luckily they gave me a shot to run it and it worked out for the best.” – Sophomore TE Jay Gibson on the two-point conversion.

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

3 NOTES TO KNOW
– Drayton Arnold’s 75-yard pass to Juwan Tyus on the Mocs’ first play of the game was the longest TD pass play for UTC since Nick Tiano hit Tyrin Summers for a 75-yard TD vs. The Citadel (Nov 16, 2019).
– The Mocs had their first turnover of the season today on a fumble by Drayton Arnold … UTC came into the game +4 in the turnover margin for the season.
– Citadel was flagged nine times for 122 yards in penalties … Mocs were thrown three times for 35 yards … last time at UTC opponent had 100 yards in penalties was 116 against Western Carolina on Sept. 25, 2010 … most penalty yards against a UTC opponent since Appalachian State had 135 on 12 penalties on Oct. 30,1999.

Check out all the extra info at the notes link at the top of the story.

3 STATS TO KNOW
– UTC was 3-11 on third down while The Citadel at 10-19.
– UTC put up a season-high 326 yards of total offense today … 104 rushing and 222 passing.
– Mocs held the Bulldogs to just 230 yards of total offense … UTC came into the game second in the SoCon and No. 8 in the FCS in total defense (226.5).

Check out all the numbers at the stats link at the top of the story.

NEXT GAME – Chattanooga at No. 17 Furman, 12 p.m. | March 20 | 2020-21 Schedule

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Angela joined the News 12 team in November of 2017 as the weekend sports anchor and reporter. Angela is a proud member of an Army family, which means she has hometowns all over the Eastern Seaboard. Most recently, she calls Peachtree City, Georgia, home, where she graduated from Trinity Christian School and spent her free time driving her purple golf cart. She then headed to Milledgeville, Georgia, to attend Georgia College and State University. A proud Bobcat, Angela graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Mass Communication and represented her December 2016 class as one of three valedictorians. Angela comes to the Scenic City from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where she worked at the NBC affiliate, WMBF News. Before the big move, she worked as Georgia College's Sports Information Assistant, which let her get paid to be the Bobcats' biggest fan. It all started in Savannah, Georgia, though, where she interned for SAV's number one station, WTOC. When she's not working, you can find Angela watching the New York Giants, Rangers or basically any other game that's on. She also loves traveling, hiking and exploring new places, all with her camera in hand. If you have any story ideas, big or small, feel free to reach out to her on Facebook and Twitter, or email her at amoryan@wdef.com."