Mocs Lose Close Game to Hilltoppers

By Peyton Gray, Staff Writer—

The Chattanooga Mocs football team traveled to Western Kentucky and suffered a heart-breaking 13-10 loss. 

The two teams played in constant rain for the entirety of the game, coming to a controversial final two minutes.

WKU’s Tyrrell Pigrome completed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Craig Burt Jr. on fourth-and-goal with 1:21 left in the game. This gave WKU their first lead– 13-10.

Following the late WKU touchdown, UTC’s Bryce Nunnelly, whose 146 career receptions during the game passed Terrell Owens (1992-95), returned the kick off 102 yards, putting the Mocs up 16-13. This return was called back after review due to UTC’s Tyrin Summers calling a fair catch.

Back at 10 points, the Mocs failed to drive down the field in such a short time and lost their only football game of the fall.

In his first collegiate start, senior quarterback Drayton Arnold engineered a 14-play opening drive that he ended with a 10-yard run for the Mocs’ lone touchdown, giving them s a 7-0 lead. 

The Hilltoppers responded with a long drive of their own, moving the ball deep into Mocs territory. However, their efforts resulted in a field goal with under five minutes left in the first quarter.

The second quarter was slow, with both teams going back and forth. Closing in on halftime, a Rashun Freeman tackle-for-loss, a forced fumble by Jay Person and a fumble recovery by Ty Boeck gave the Mocs the ball with 16 seconds left. The Mocs responded with a series of desperation passes that didn’t connect, stalling the game to a 7-3 score at the half. At halftime, the Mocs sent the signal that they were there to win. 

“We’ll look back at it and know what we’re capable of. They’re FBS, we’re FCS. We knew we could come in and win this game, said Freeman. “Even before this game, we had the confidence in our players compared to who they have. That’s our mindset.”

UTC’s next score came in the third quarter. Jerrell Lawson recovered a WKU mishandled punt, giving the Mocs the ball at the WKU 8-yard line. Failing to get in the end zone, Victor Ulmo moved the score to 10-3 with a 22-yard field goal.

Minutes later, WKU responded with another field goal to put the score at 10-6.

Pigrome completed a 28-yard pass to Joshua Simon late in the fourth quarter, putting the Hilltoppers at the Mocs 13-yard line until a roughing the passer penalty brought them even closer; first-and-goal at the Mocs six. After two back-to-back 1-yard losses, the Pigrome-Burt connection was the last score of the game.

“Our kids battled. They played like how I thought they would. I didn’t do a very good job of being a head coach at the end to give them a good enough chance,” said Mocs head coach Rusty Wright. “There’s no reason we shouldn’t have won that game. I have to do a better job of getting us over the hump. I was pleased in the end of it, though.” 

The Southern Conference has plans for an eight-game schedule this spring. The Mocs will take the field again Feb. 20, 2021 against VMI.

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