UTC 3-0 with win at Martin
MARTIN, Tenn. — The takeaway bag made an appearance.
The offense did its job.
And just like that, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team is 3-0.
The Mocs jumped out to a 20-point lead early Saturday and held on to defeat UT-Martin 34-24 in front of 4,414 at Hardy M. Graham Stadium.
UTC will return to Southern Conference play this Saturday night at home against ninth-ranked Samford (1-2), which fell 30-24 Saturday to Mercer in Birmingham, Alabama.
This is the first time the Mocs have started 3-0 — with all wins coming against Division I competition — since 1979, when they finished 9-2 and won the SoCon. The 2018 team already has equaled the 2017 Mocs in total victories.
Quarterback Nick Tiano had an efficient performance, completing 20 of his 24 passes for 208 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Wil Young. Tyrell Price topped 100 yards for the first time in his career, with 118, and ran for two scores, including a 40-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Bryce Nunnelly had his third consecutive 100-yard receiving performance, with 117 yards on eight catches. He became the first UTC receiver to post back-to-back-toback 100-yard games since Blue Cooper in 2009.
The Mocs scored on all four first-half possessions to build a 20-7 lead at the break. Victor Ulmo kicked two field goals, and the team was able to score touchdowns after interceptions by Brandon Dowdell and Kareem Orr. The Skyhawks
(0-3) cut into the lead with a nineplay, 75-yard drive at the end of the half, with quarterback Dresser Winn plunging in from 3 yards out at the halftime horn.
“It was a great start for us in the first half,” Tiano said. “Obviously, getting in the red zone we need to score touchdowns. The defense that they play, we knew we were going to have a lot of underneath routes and checkdowns. I thought we were able to do that pretty well.”
Price had both of his scoring runs in the second half. The first was set up by a flea-flicker play, with Price taking the handoff and tossing the ball back to Tiano, who threw a 42-yard pass to Nunnelly to the UTM 1-yard line. Price finished the drive a play later.
The Skyhawks battled back with a touchdown from Winn to Jaylon Moore and a Ryan Courtright field goal, the latter cutting the lead to 27-17 early in the fourth quarter. The Mocs responded with a seven-play, 75-yard drive — 62 yards on the ground — with Price netting the final 40 when he took the handoff going right, cut left, broke a few tackles and sprinted into the end zone.
The Mocs finished with 153 yards rushing, the most during the 15-game Tom Arth coaching era.
The UTC defense — which played without end Devonnsha Maxwell and linebacker Tavon Lawson — lost Michael Bean during the game to an injury. The Skyhawks had 457 yards of total offense, 300 on Winn passes.
“Well, two weeks in a row we have had a good lead at the end of the half, but we give up a drive at the end of the second that gives our opponent a lot of momentum going into the locker room,” Arth said. “We came back out offensively and didn’t get it done. We went three-and-out and allowed them to come back on the field.
“We have to put a lot of emphasis on that. We have to finish games. I felt like we were a little relaxed there late in the third quarter. We gave up some explosive plays that allowed them back in the game. That’s something we have to work on.”
Marshall Cooper had 12 tackles to lead the Mocs, who were credited with eight tackles for loss and five sacks. Dowdell had eight tackles, while Hawk Schrider also had eight, with two sacks and a forced fumble. Orr had seven tackles.
UTC’s Tyrell Price ran for two touchdowns against UT-Martin in the Mocs’ 34-24 win Saturday.