By Abe Avila, Staff Writer—
On Thursday, October 17, the Chattanooga Mocs played host to instate conference rival East Tennessee State University. It was a chilly fall evening under the lights, a strong tension was felt from both teams throughout the duration of the contest, but UTC’s stout defensive and the help of freshman running back Ailym Ford, Florence, S.C., the Mocs were victorious.
Nick Tiano, Chattanooga, looked poised in the pocket early in the game despite the up and down season it has been for the senior quarterback, but it was Ford who started the scoring with a six-yard touchdown run up the middle.
ETSU scored all of their points in the second quarter. Both teams made each other work for every inch until ETSU’s Will Huzzie pulled in a sensational one-handed catch for 32-yards and a touchdown from quarterback Trey Mitchell to get the Bucs on the board. Despite playing at home, the momentum felt more in ETSU’s hands after the play, however the Mocs’ defense held strong and kept the Bucs to only field goals for the rest of the quarter.
UTC began the second half by scoring on their first drive thanks to Ford’s 14-yard dance to the end zone.
The momentum shifting moment in the game came from Moc’s defensive back Jerrell Lawson, Brundidge, Ala.
On fourth-and-two at the Chattanooga 12, ETSU Coach Randy Sanders opted to stay on the field for another touchdown opportunity. East Tennessee ran a jet-sweep pass to Jacob Saylors who was quickly tracked and dropped for a loss of three by Lawson keeping the game tied at 13. The defense continued giving the Bucs offensive scoring issues.
Despite a dropped punt return, the game was knotted up. UTC’s defense prevailed in every way, but the offense was having difficulty of their own finding the end zone. In true football fairytale fashion, it seemed as if things were coming down to the kicker and Chattanooga native, Victor Ulmo.
With 2:31 left on the clock, Ulmo lined up from 36 yards out, but the kick went wide right. Energy drained from the home crowd, but the defense got on the field with a mission.
As they had done for the entire contest, the defense held the Bucs offense on a three-and-out with more than two minutes to go.
Ailym Ford took over with runs of 23 and 11 yards to get to the 200-yard mark on the night. After a couple short plays, Ulmo was given a second chance from 30 yards out. Ulmo lined up and in heroic fashion, won the game for the Mocs.
“It’s all about a mindset I had to have. I trust my snapper, I trust my holder even though we didn’t have a good day as a unit,” Ulmo said. “We just have to keep getting better. I have to trust myself always, never had a doubt if I’d make that kick”.
The Mocs move to 3-0 in the Southern Conference with this tough win, however, prior to the match up ETSU was statistically set up to be an easy win for Chattanooga.
“There’s no such thing this time of year,” head coach Rusty Wright said. “I never got upset the whole night. We were one play away from taking control the whole time. Everything they got tonight, we gave to them.”
The Mocs won their third game in a row improving to 4-3 overall and 3-0 in SoCon play. Chattanooga is tied with No. 8 Furman (4-2, 3-0 SoCon) for the lead in the league race while ETSU has fallen to 2-5 overall and 0-4 in SoCon games.
Next up the Chattanooga Mocs will play an afternoon game at Wofford on Saturday, October 26 at 1:30.