Mocs See End To Season, Fall At Furman, 26-7

Paladins Overcome Early Chattanooga Lead For Playoff Win

  • Saturday, December 2, 2023
The 18th-ranked Chattanooga Mocs football team saw its historic season come to an end in the FCS Playoffs second round, falling to SoCon-foe and 7th-ranked Furman 26-7 on a rainy and overcast Saturday afternoon inside Paladin Stadium in Greenville, S.C.
Chattanooga, who earned its first-ever FCS playoff road win last week, finishes the season 8-5 overall. Furman improves to 10-2 overall and advances to the FCS Quarterfinals, awaiting the winner of Montana and Delaware.
Battling through injuries and missing key starters for much of the season, Chattanooga's fast start to today's game was met with a second-half stalling.
Through it all, the Mocs continued to battle week-in and week-out to earn a spot in the program record books and ultimately end with a second-round playoff finish.
"Couldn't be prouder of the group. Not many folks go 10 weeks straight in a football season, lose the people that we've lost during it, and still give ourselves the opportunity to keep playing," said head coach Rusty Wright following the game.

"Our young people did that. It's just a tough day at the office, but I knew it was gonna be a hard day when they're a good football team. They're older and a little bit bigger than we are in a couple spots. We went out there and battled, but at the end of the day they just didn't make the mistakes that we did."

After UTC won the opening toss and deferred to the second half, Clay Fields III picked off a Furman pass over the middle to create early momentum and set up the offense at its own 19. The Mocs went all 81 yards in 11 plays, capped off by a Reggie Davis 11-yard touchdown run to put the guests up 7-0 with 7:40 left in the first.
Furman tied the game 7-7 on a short one-yard rush from Dominic Roberto which capped off a 10-play, 60-yard scoring drive in the early stages of the second quarter (10:23). The Chattanooga defense came up with a fourth-down stop at the 3:59 mark before half and took over at its own 39.
The offense failed to get going after the stop and went just eight yards in six plays following consecutive pre-snap penalties, eventually leading to a 23-yard punt from Clayton Crile to allow Furman to set up shop at its own 30. The Paladins used eight plays to go 44 yards and took a 10-7 lead into halftime after a 44-yard field goal from Ian Williams.
UTC came up with a third-and-short defensive stop on Furman's first possession of the second half and forced the Paladins to punt things away. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Luke Schomburg's pass was picked off along the sidelines and returned to the two-yard line as the Paladins punched it in one play later to take a 17-7 lead with 11:14 left in the third.
Chattanooga went three-and-out on its next offensive drive and then allowed Furman to see a first-and-goal situation, but the defense stood tall and held the Paladins to a 31-yard field goal to limit the deficit to 20-7 (6:03). It was the same story on the next possession for both teams as Furman converted a 37-yard field goal to extend the lead to 23-7 with 13:22 left in the game.
Matthew Clemmer went in at quarterback for UTC and saw his second career pass attempted picked off and returned to inside the Mocs 10-yard line, which would lead to another Furman field goal and a 26-7 lead for the team in purple with 9:49 on the board.
The 26-7 separation would end up being the game's final tally as the Chattanooga offense just couldn't get going in the late stages. UTC was outscored 16-0 and outgained 168-42 in total yards over the final two quarters with the 42 yards all coming on the ground.

1st Quarter
UTC – 7:40 – R. Davis 11 yd touchdown rush (XP GOOD) – 7-0 UTC
2nd Quarter
FUR – 10:23 – D. Roberto 1 yd touchdown rush (XP GOOD) – Tied 7-7
FUR – 0:25 – I. Williams 44 yd field goal – 10-7 FUR

3rd Quarter
FUR – 11:14 – D. Roberto 2 yd touchdown rush (XP GOOD) – 17-7 FUR
FUR – 6:03 – I. Williams 31 yd field goal – 20-7 FUR
4th Quarter
FUR – 13:22 – I. Williams 37 yd field goal – 23-7 FUR
FUR – 9:49 – I. Williams 30 yd field goal – 26-7 FUR

RECORDS – No. 18/19 Chattanooga 8-5 · No. 7/6 Furman 10-2 · Stats Perform/AFCA Coaches Poll
SERIES – Furman now leads the all-time series 33-21.
1. Third time in school history meeting a regular season opponent in the postseason… all three times were losses at home in the regular season and on the road in the playoffs…1978: Arkansas State (16-0/37-10) and 2015: Jacksonville State (23-20/41-35 OT).

2. LS Cody Olszewski tied the school record for games played with 52… matches OL Corey Levin (2013-16) and LB Nakevion Leslie (2013-16)… DB Kam Brown played his 51st game, while DE Ben Brewton became the 12th Mocs student-athlete to reach No. 50.

3. Jamoi Mayes had three catches for 38 yards… became the fifth Mocs receiver with 1,000-yard season and seventh with 2k for a career  with his 32-yard 1st quarter catch… 1,037 yards this season ranks 4th and is 247 shy of Joel Bradford's '11 record of 1,284 in 2010… 2,022 is 7th in program history and 353 short of Stefpon Hawkins' '99 record 2,375.

LB Kobe Joseph on a lot of different guys having to step in on defense.
"We've had depth all year. People have been going down and people have been stepping up. It's just part of our defense and part of our team. As Coach Wright has been saying, 'we're a team, we're not just a group of players'. We're a great football team, and getting those guys the experience they need and the plays they need is gonna help us a lot next year. We have a lot of guys coming back and then a lot of guys that are going to have to step up in place of others."

HC Rusty Wright on what changed after the early interception and touchdown for UTC.
"You could just tell that they hadn't played in a week. As the game went on they played some things a little better, but we knew we had to make it a little ugly and we knew we had to go out there and probably score 35, which is not the way we're built right now. They played some things a little better and we just didn't execute. We had an opportunity to execute right before the end of the first half but we really just screwed it up. That was the biggest one I was disappointed in just because it felt like we could've gotten some points there before the half and gotten a little momentum going. We just didn't get that."

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