“It was on the line and we knew we had to get it done, and we did it,” Head Coach Russ Huesman explained. “What a great team win, including defense, offense and special teams. This is a great team win.”
It was 24-21 Bulldogs when the Mocs took over on their own 21 with 3:42 to play. Huesman and his mates went to work.
After Marquis Green ran for eight yards, Huesman found redshirt freshman C.J. Board for 28 into Bulldogs' territory to the 43. Green got another seven yards to the 36 when the spotlight went squarely on No. 14.
Huesman ran three consecutive plays, the first for 12, and the second for 11 more. His final carry was up the middle for 13 yards and into the end zone for the winning tally.
It was far from over as that touchdown came with just over two minutes on the clock. The Chattanooga defense was not going to allow it to slip away. Keionta Davis had a hand in two sacks, forcing a fourth-and-16 desperation play for the Bulldogs.
Aaron Miller escaped pressure and was hit as he threw by Davis Tull. As his pass approached midfield, Kadeem Wise and Dee Virgin each made a play on the ball. It deflected and fell to the turf just before the Bulldogs' Matt Thompson could corral it. Chattanooga ran out the clock from there for the 28-24 win.
“The Citadel hasn’t given up many sacks, and I had a feeling we would be in this situation,” Huesman added. “We went back and looked at every two-minute drive they had this whole year and didn’t cut it up based on formation. We looked at them all and they had been very successful within two minutes.
“Aaron Miller throws the ball really well and they’ve had a lot of success,” he continued. “But we have a lot of pass rushers…it’s always good to have pass rushers.”
Chattanooga trailed by as many as 10, three times, as The Citadel’s triple-option attack caused fits for the defense. The Bulldogs scored on their first three possessions in building a 17-7 halftime lead.
On the flip side, the Mocs offense got off to a sluggish start. It scored just once in their five times with the ball before three second half touchdowns earned the win.
“We could have made some plays in the first half, but I just wasn’t connecting with our receivers,” the younger Huesman shared. “I was overthrowing, underthrowing and couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn in the first half. Luckily I started hitting people in the second half. I hit Xavier Borishade and then the one to C.J. Board to put us on the other side of the field was big.
“C.J. had a great game.”
Huesman had 239 yards of total offense. He ran for 95 on 13 rushes with a score, while throwing for 144 more (13-23-0 passing) and two TD’s. Green had 85 yards rushing on 16 carries in relief of the SoCon’s second-leading rusher Keon Williams (Chattanooga), who did not see an offensive snap due to injury. Board had a game-high five catches for 59 yards.
Muhasibi Wakeel (Decatur, Ga.) had a career-high 17 tackles to pace the defense. It’s the most stops by a Moc since Ryan Consiglio (2008-11) posted 19 against Wofford in 2011. D.J. Key (Centerville, Tenn.) added another 13, tying his career-high.
Darien Robinson led a strong Bulldogs rushing attack that gained 334 yards on the day. Robinson gained 124 yards on 24 carries getting the tough yards inside. Dalton Trevino (2-63) and Ben Dupree (12-56) combined for another 119 yards.
The Citadel used two big plays to try and stave off the Mocs. After UTC closed within three twice, the Bulldogs used a long pass and long run to spread its advantage back to 10.
The first came in the second quarter as Miller hit Jake Stenson on a 41-yard strike for the 17-7 halftime lead. It became a 24-14 contest when Trevino took the option pitch 61 yards mid-way through the third quarter for the score.
The Citadel amassed 215 of its 334 rushing yards in the first half. Take away Trevino’s long run, and the Mocs allowed just 58 rushing yards in the second frame.
Huesman got it back to a three-point game, 24-21, late in the third. He lofted a 33-yard scoring toss to a streaking Xavier Borishade (Kennesaw, Ga.) to set up the late heroics.