Rail Rivalry

UTC football team holds up the Rail after a victory at the Rail Rivalry. Saturday, October 16, 2021

This week the 5’7” 108-pound railroad tie trophy will be handed to one of two teams: rival ETSU or Chattanooga. 

Following their first loss of the season to Illinois, the Mocs travel to Johnson city to take on a two-loss Buccaneer team. Last year, Chattanooga spoiled ETSU’s undefeated season with a 26-21 upset, taking home the railroad tie. The trophy features both teams’ logos along with the outline of the state of Tennessee, stars on both Chattanooga and Johnson City, with “The Rail” capitalized across the state.  

Chattanooga leads the all-time series (24-19-1) and looks to extend their current win streak over the Bucs to three. The past 10 matchups, though, have been as even as it gets as the teams are in a five-game split.According to GoMocs.com, “The last four games have been grind-it-out affairs all ending within a single score,” and the average score for the railroad tie is 15.3 to 12.3. 

Like Chattanooga, ETSU features a stifling defense as they hold their opponents to an average of 14.2 points per game. The Buccaneers like to start quick, outscoring opponents 100-23 in the first half, but typically ween off the gas pedal in the second half, where they have been outscored 34 to 30. 

The ETSU offense features tailback Jacob Saylors who is averaging 5.4 yards per carry and over 120 all-purpose yards per contest. Last year, the Bucs were able to pick up 160 yards on the ground against the Mocs. 

Chattanooga could exploit ESTU by forcing the Bucs to pass the ball, as they have thrown seven interceptions this year. Defensive lineman Ben Brewton and Devonnsha Maxwell will be benefactors for the Mocs, as the backfield-wrecking duo has been able to force pressure on opposing quarterbacks in each game this year. 

As noted in their loss to Furman, forcing ETSU out of their comfort zone (to not feed Saylors the ball) leads to success. Furman leaped out to a 20-7 lead on the Bucs, resulting in ETSU throwing the rock 44 times in the game. The Paladins would go on to win 27-14, limiting the star running back to only 54 yards on the ground.  

A win this weekend would keep the Mocs atop the Southern Conference, but a loss would give ETSU their first SoCon win of the season. As the railroad tie travels to Johnson City this week, hopefully we will see it on the shoulders of Mocs players at the end of the game and stay home, here, with the Chattanooga Choo Choo. 

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