The Chattanooga Mocs were ready to turn their focus to game week. A trip to Birmingham looms and another pivotal Southern Conference matchup with Samford on tap Saturday afternoon. This past Saturday’s win is in the rearview and all eyes are ahead.
Nice cliché, but we have to hit the rewind button back to the Rail Rivalry triumph because Stats Perform and the Southern Conference demand it. Their weekly awards are very Chattanooga centric.
Junior defensive lineman Devonnsha Maxwell is the Stats Perform National Defensive Player of the Week and SoCon Defensive Player of the Week for his dominating performance against the Bucs.
Tyrell Price joins him as SoCon Offensive Player of the Week. Maxwell recorded a school-record FIVE sacks.
The first of the five caused a fumble recovered by Jay Person setting up the Mocs first score. The other four came in the fourth quarter thwarting ETSU comeback efforts. His third of the day turned the ball over on downs stopping a Bucs foray into Mocs territory. Four and five came on ETSU’s final drive which resulted in a touchdown but with so little time left that after Chattanooga recovered the onside kick, it took one kneel down by Cole Copeland to secure the win.
Which is the greater accomplishment? Is it recording 5.0 sacks, 1.5 more than ever accomplished at Chattanooga or is recording one more against the Bucs vaunted offensive line than it gave up in its previous six games combined (4)? Or that he recorded four of the five in the fourth quarter alone?
“He’s consistent and persistent attacking the offense,” Coach Rusty Wright explained. “He figures things out as we go through the game. He’s fresher now than maybe in the past in the fourth quarter which helps. We’ve got some guys that can spell him a little more than in the past.
“If you can make plays like he does in crunch time, it’s a big deal.”
Not to be overlooked is another strong performance from senior running back Tyrell Price. “TP” ran for 102 yards on 14 carries with two scores in the win. That includes a career-long 58-yard run that was 58 yards solely because the goal line got in the way.
The fifth career 100-yard day led to a season-high 141 all-purpose yards adding in 39 receiving yards on three catches. The touchdowns add up to 19 for his career which is one outside the top 10 all-time at Chattanooga. The next one puts him into a tie for eighth with the quartet of James Roberts '93, Robert Smith '70, Kenneth Strong '30 and Clarence Lautzenheiser '29.
Price has 306 yards (102.0 per game) in SoCon play. He’s averaging 8.1 yards per carry over that 3-game span.
“Both of them played at a high-level Saturday,” Wright continued. “No question about it…both are very deserving. They have the stats to back it up and prove it. It shows the offensive line played well. The tight ends played well, and wide receivers blocked well downfield offensively.
“Defensively, I think it shows Christian Smith played a better game. Some guys around (Maxwell) played better games that opened up some things that hadn’t been there. Those guys are more than deserving and earned every bit of the recognition they received, but we played a much better, cleaner team game on Saturday.”
Maxwell is the first Stats Perform National Player of the Year for the Mocs since the Spring when linebacker Ty Boeck won the honor on March 22 after the 20-18 win at No. 11 Furman. It’s the fourth and fifth SoCon honors over the first seven weeks of the season.
Price gets the first on the offensive of the ball, while Maxwell nabs his second of the year and third overall for the defense including Boeck’s week 3 nod after a strong performance at Kentucky. Aaron Sears also captured Special Teamer of the Week after three field goals and 11 points at UK.
The Mocs are back in action Saturday at 1 p.m., Eastern time. The matchup with Bulldogs is vital with seven teams deep in the title hunt. Five teams – UTC (2-1), ETSU (3-1), VMI (3-1), Mercer (3-1) & Furman (2-1) – have just one loss, while Samford (2-2) and The Citadel (1-2) are hot on their heels.