The Chattanooga Mocs won their first Southern Conference football game Saturday night at Finley Stadium as they beat the Western Carolina Catamounts by a 42-21 final score.
It was a game where the Mocs should have won and it should have been in convincing fashion as the Catamounts fall to 1-5 overall and 0-3 in conference play.
Don't misunderstand here: The Mocs played well in spots, but there were times in the second half when they appeared to just be going through the motions after building a 28-0 lead.
Coach Russ Huesman certainly had mixed feelings about this latest victory.
"It was a great win and I hope that we enjoy it tonight, but these guys on this football team do some of the most stupid things I've ever seen. We made so many mistakes and that second half was a pure embarrassment," the spirited coach explained during his post-game radio show.
"Offensively I was pleased as we scored 42 points. We also converted on nine of 15 third-down opportunities and some of those were big. Defensively, I was happy that we got four interceptions as was one of the keys, but we have to have a killer instinct and tonight we didn't.
"We had a 28-0 lead and let them score three touchdowns in the second half. We have to play harder, even when we're ahead. We still have some things to fix, but I can promise you that we'll get better.
"And that one kickoff return by Chaz was huge," he concluded, referring to an 81-yard kickoff return by Chaz Moore following the Catamounts second touchdown.
Former Red Bank star Keon Williams then pranced 15 yards for Chattanooga's final touchdown as the hard-running junior surpassed the 100-yard mark for the third time this season on the run with 11:58 to play.
Kicker Nick Pollard was wide on a 40-yard field goal attempt on Chattanooga's second possession of the game, but the Mocs found paydirt on the third time around as Jacob Huesman hooked up with sophomore tight end Troy Dye for a 10-yard score and the home team was off and running.
Interceptions by Moore, former East Ridge star Gunner Miller and D.J. Key put the Moc offense in business in the second quarter and Huesman cashed in with touchdown passes of 67 yards to Marquis Green with 11:33 to play before halftime and then one of seven yards to Tommy Hudson about six minutes later.
Huesman completed 14 of his passes in the first half for 186 yards and all three Chattanooga touchdowns, but he wasn't totally pleased after finishing the game with 223 passing yards on 18 completions in 25 attempts.
"Personally, I didn't feel like I was very sharp in the first half, but I took better care of the ball in the second half when I was making better reads," the former All-State player from Baylor said after the game ended.
"I was just throwing little screen passes, but the guys around me are the ones who got the job done. I was far from perfect, but we need to be sharper on offense and that starts with me. We prepare for a fight every time we play a conference game and Western Carolina was no different, but Furman will be a tough test for us," the sophomore signal caller added.
While Huesman was responsible for 223 yards through the air, he added 49 yards on the ground as the Mocs had a net of 209 yards rushing.
Williams finished the evening with 127 yards on 20 carries, including a long of 23 yards.
Hudson's TD midway through the second period gave Chattanooga a 21-0 lead and that was the score at intermission.
The Mocs took the second-half kickoff and marched 73 yards in 15 plays, executing well at the line of scrimmage as they consumed 7:18 of the clock for a 28-0 lead with 7:42 remaining in the third stanza.
That's when the Mocs in general sort of shifted into cruise control.
The Catamounts got on the board following a 12-yard run by tailback Garry Lewis with 3:33 left in the third before the two teams both added a pair of TDs in the final 15 minutes.
Western Carolina quarterback Troy Mitchell completed 16 of 22 passes for 181 yards, including TD throws of 46 yards to Terryon Robinson and 25 yards to Karnorris Benson. Mitchell also had the costly three interceptions.
The Catamounts finished with 289 total yards, including 191 through the air and 98 on the ground.
Mitchell was also the leading rusher for Western Carolina with 63 yards on 13 carries.
Robinson had five receptions for 91 yards while Willie Police had six grabs for 28 yards and Benson four for 40, including the TD.
While Williams and Huesman were the leading rushers for Chattanooga, Terrell Robinson was the leading receiver with 56 yards on eight catches. Green had 87 yards on three catches, including the 67-yarder and another 13-yarder early in the fourth quarter for TDs.. Hudson also had three grabs for 33 yards.
Steady Nick Pollard converted on all six point-after kicks and he also averaged 42.3 yards on three punts. His only miscue was the missed field goal in the first quarter.
While Moore, Miller and Key all had picks in the first half, former Hixson standout Zach McCarter had the last one in the fourth quarter.
Key was the leading tackler for Chattanooga with 11 stops, including six solos. Dee Virgin and Wes Dothard both followed with seven apiece while Miller finished with five.
The Mocs will be at home again next Saturday for another big SoCon game with Furman while the Catamounts have a tough one on the road at Auburn.
WESTERN CAROLINA 0 0 7 14 -- 21
CHATTANOOGA 7 14 7 14 -- 42
UTC -- Troy Dye 10 pass from Jacob Huesman (Nick Pollard kick), 0:30 left in first;
UTC -- Marquis Green 67 pass from Huesman (Pollard kick), 11:33 left in second;
UTC -- Tommy Hudson 7 pass from Huesman (Pollard kick), 5:20 left in second;
UTC -- Huesman 6 run (Pollard kick), 7:42 left in third;
WCU -- Garry Lewis 12 run (Richard Sigmon kick), 3:33 left in third;
UTC -- Green 13 pass from Huesman (Pollard kick), 14:51 left in fourth;
WCU -- Terryon Robinson 46 pass from Troy Mitchell (Sigmon kick), 12:18 left in fourth;
UTC -- Keon Williams 15 run (Pollard kick), 11:58 left in fourth;
WCU -- Karnorris Benson 25 pass from Mitchell (Sigmon kick), 7:07 left in fourth.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)