The Chattanooga Mocs shut down Western Carolina’s vibrant offensive attack in a 26-6 triumph in Whitmire Stadium Saturday afternoon. The Catamounts had not scored less than 28 points in a game all season. The Mocs had not allowed more than 24 in regulation. Something had to give.
It was not the UTC defense as it held its hosts nearly 30 points (29.8) below their season average. Offensively, the squad utilized a balanced attack to wreck Hall of Fame Day in Cullowhee.
Nick Tiano threw for two touchdowns completing 22 of 28 passes for 204 yards. Tyrell Price added a season-high 135 yards on 29 carries and the third Mocs score. Marshall Cooper led the stout defense with nine stops.
Connell Young highlighted the Catamounts offense with 72 yards on 15 rushes. Tyrie Adams (6-13-1, 88 yards) and Will Jones (3-5-0, 68) combined for a 9-18 effort gaining 156 yards with an interception. Ty Harris had a game-high 11 tackles.
Jerrell Lawson got it started in the right direction with a first quarter safety. Tiano found Parker from 28-yards out on the ensuing drive for an early 9-0 lead. Victor Ulmo tacked on a 39-yard field goal early in the second quarter to make it 12-0.
Kareem Orr entered the contest leading the league in interceptions. He stepped in front of an Adams offering at the Western 32 and flirted with a pick 6 before getting run out of bounds at the four. Three plays later Tiano and Parker hooked up again, this time from three yards for the commanding 19-0 advantage.
The Catamounts got on the board late in the first half. Will Horton’s 47-yard field goal was set up by a 37-yard punt return by Daquan Patton. It was just the second foray into Mocs territory for the home team.
Price got the final Mocs score late in the third. His 3-yard tote capped a seven-minute scoring drive. That was a big storyline along with the defense.
The efficient offense held the ball for 37:46 keeping the Cats off the field with a season-low 54 offensive plays.
The defense had nine tackles for loss and four sacks led by Isaiah Mack’s career-high 2.5. It’s the third time this year the Mocs recorded four or more with the other two – UT Martin & ETSU – also coming on the road.
Coach Tom Arth said, “It was just a great effort across the board. Every time we had a chance to get them on the sideline in those situations, Pops (Derek Mahaffey) is leading the way. Just saying, ‘they are not getting anything, they are not getting in. We have to slam the door on them.’ And they did it…You have to give them a lot of credit. It is one thing to say it. It is another thing to go out there and do it.”
Junior quarterback Nick Tiano said, “We’ve got an extremely talented receiver room. We knew going into the season that the receiving corps was as good as anybody in the country. Those guys are constantly getting open, and I’m lucky to be able to get them the ball.”
UTC improves to 5-2/3-2 SoCon, while Western Carolina drops to 3-3.
UTC leads 28-17 in the series...13-10 at Western Carolina... 5th straight triumph in Cullowhee…winners of nine of last 10 in the series.
- Defense set up nine of the first 19 points. Jerrell Lawson recorded the first safety since Fordham in the 2015 FCS Playoffs win over Fordham. Kareem Orr’s interception and 28-yard return to the four provided a short field on the second TD strike from Tiano to Parker.
- Second 100-yard rushing game for Price. Season highs of 29 carries and 135 yards. Most yards rushing by a Moc since Darrell Bridges had 149 in last year’s home loss to The Citadel. Most carries since the 2014 FCS Playoff win over Indiana State when Jacob Huesman tallied 31.
- +2 in turnover margin gets the Mocs to +7 on the season. The squad led the league entering play today. 16 total turnovers forced this year.
The Mocs are off for two weeks. They host VMI on Homecoming weekend October 27. The 3 p.m., kickoff airs on ESPN+. The Catamounts head to Mercer next Saturday.