UT Martin 31, Chattanooga 21
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- The 24th-ranked Chattanooga Mocs (0-1) dropped a 31-21 season-opening loss to visiting UT Martin (1-0) at Finley Stadium Thursday night. The Skyhawks scored 24 points with a strong effort on the ground.
UTM rushed for 289 yards on 50 carries scoring three times while throwing for another. In the second half alone, the Skyhawks pounded out 218 rushing yards to grind their way to a win.
D.J. McNeil and Trent Garland each topped the 100-yard mark. McNeil led all rushers with 134 yards on 26 carries, while Garland added 116 on eight totes with each finding the end zone. Dylan Favre came off the bench to run and throw for a score completing nine of 12 passes for 83 yards.
Jacob Huesman amassed 316 yards of total offense on the night. He completed 17 of 30 passes for 226 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. He also posted a team-high 90 yards rushing with 22 carries.
The Skyhawks gained 100 yards on their opening drive only to see it stall because of penalties. The rest of the half, the Mocs shut the door allowing a mere 37 yards on 18 plays. UTM took a 7-0 lead into the half on UTC’s lone turnover of the night.
Huesman’s pass late in the second quarter shot through his receiver’s hands and into the waiting arms of J’von Blackmon at the UTC 38. He returned it 27 yards to the 11. A facemask penalty added six yards to the Mocs’ five. McNeil ran twice to get into the end zone and the 7-0 lead.
The Skyhawks took control of the game in the third frame. They made it a 14-0 lead on a 12-play, 89-yard drive that ended with a 13-yard dash into the end zone by Favre. Chattanooga answered quickly.
Huesman rushed twice for 16 yards before finding a streaking Tommy Hudson for 41 yards down the right sideline. On the very next play, Huesman fired an 18-yard toss to Faysal Shafaat to cap a 1:16 scoring drive and cut the margin to 14-7.
UTM did not fret. It followed its 89-yard scoring drive with one from 83 yards. Favre ended it with a 13-yard pass to Chris Thompson who kept his toes in bounds as he slowly fell to the ground on the touch pass for a 21-7 lead.
Chattanooga continued to battle. It cut the lead to 21-14 with 7:16 to go as Marquis Green took a Huesman screen 29 yards into the end zone, but the Skyhawks pulled away.
UTM scored on its next two possessions with a 29-yard Jackson Redditt field goal and 33-yard Garland run. Huesman hit Shafaat for a 13-yard score late to secure the 31-21 final.
The trio of Wes Dothard, Kadeem Wise and Gunner Miller each tallied a game-high nine tackles. The Mocs’ D forced three turnovers with Sema’je Kendall Sema’je Kendall and Dee Virgin recovering fumbles and Virgin, a redshirt freshman, grabbing his first interception. Tony Bell and Thad Williams each had eight stops for the Skyhawks.
Middle Tennessee 45, Western Carolina 24
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – After spotting Middle Tennessee a 28-point first half lead, the Western Carolina Catamount football team closed its first, first half of the 2013 season with a scoring frenzy as sophomore quarterback Troy Mitchell tossed a pair of touchdown passes just 11 seconds apart for a 15-point swing and a 31-18 halftime margin.
However, the early deficit was too much to overcome as the Blue Raiders leaned on the youthful Catamounts in the second half to pull out the 45-24 victory at Floyd Stadium in the season-opener for both squads. MTSU’s William Pratcher rushed for two touchdowns and a combined 71 yards as the Blue Raiders won their first game as a member of Conference USA.
Mitchell finished 7-for-15 with scoring strikes to junior Karnorris Benson and freshman Terryon Robinson and an interception, accounting for 161 of WCU’s 257 passing yards with 38 yards gained on the ground. Redshirt junior Eddie Sullivan, who earned the starting nod and finished the game after Mitchell was sidelined in the fourth quarter, threw for 96 yards on 12-of-21 passing, also tossing a pick and was sacked three times.
Mitchell did not return for precautionary purposes with concussion-like symptoms, according to the WCU Sports Medicine staff. He only complained of a slight headache after the game and will be re-evaluated by the medical staff throughout the weekend.
Benson and Robinson both finished with four catches apiece in Thursday night’s loss with Benson collecting his first career, 100-yard receiving game with 113 yards including a long of 56. Redshirt junior Jeff Moore tripled his career output in one game, leading all receivers with a career-best six catches for 49 yards.
Jordan Parker ran for a 65-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, sparking the Blue Raiders to the 28 unanswered points before WCU’s Richard Sigmon kicked a 21-yard field goal for Western Carolina in the second quarter. Parker finished with 156 yards on 22 carries, and quarterback Logan Kilgore was 12-for-18 and threw one touchdown.
Trailing 31-3, Mitchell threw two touchdown passes within 11 seconds for the Catamounts, first connecting with Benson on a 39-yard touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff, senior Ben Watkins jarred the football loose on the return with Sigmon pouncing on the football. Mitchell found Robinson from 35 yards out on the very next play, making it 31-18 at the half.
In addition to his 78 yards receiving, Robinson added a seven-yard punt return to record 85 all-purpose yards on Thursday in his Purple & Gold debut.
The two squads traded punts before the Blue Raiders used their size to chew up 73 yards in 13 plays – seven of which coming on the ground – to pull ahead by 20 points, 38-18, on a 10-yard touchdown scamper by back-up quarterback, Austin Grammer.
Pratcher slipped up the middle for a second score from 38 yards out before the Catamounts concluded scoring with a one-yard Shaun Warren touchdown rush. Warren’s seventh career rushing score capped a 14-play, 77-yard drive orchestrated by Sullivan.
Warren finished with a team-high 55 yards rushing while freshman Garry Lewis posted positive yardage on all five carries for 25 yards on the ground.
Preseason All-Southern Conference defensive back, Ace Clark, led all players with a game-high 11 tackles for the Catamounts. The redshirt junior added a fumble recovery early in the second quarter that set up WCU’s first score of the day on a 21-yard Sigmon field goal. Senior Courtland Carson finished with nine tackles including one of WCU’s three sacks on the day. Sophomore defensive lineman John McBeth, who tallied a career-high seven stops, added a sack while true freshman Fred Mooring posted the third sack as a part of a two-tackle day.