UTC 3-0 with win at Martin

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - SPORTS - BY GENE HEN­LEY STAFF WRITER

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 PHOTO/DALE RUTEMEYER

UTC’s Tyrell Price ran for two touch­downs against UT-Martin in the Mocs’ 34-24 win Satur­day.

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