Citadel falls in another close game to Chattanooga

(Citadel SID)

Chattanooga, Tenn. - The Citadel rushed for 334 yards and led the game for 58 minutes, but a late fourth quarter touchdown run by Jacob Huesman put the Mocs on top for good in a 28-24 win on Saturday at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga.

The Bulldogs drop to 2-6 and 2-4 in the Southern Conference while Chattanooga improves to 6-2 with a 4-1 mark in the conference. Five of the Bulldogs' six losses this season have been decided by seven points or less.

Following a Citadel punt, the Mocs took over at their own 21 with 3:42 left on the clock. Huesman heaved a 28-yard pass over the middle to C.J. Board, moving the ball to the Bulldogs' 43, and three subsequent rushes up the middle by Huesman led to his 13-yard touchdown which put UTC ahead for the first time in the game with 2:02 remaining.

Chattanooga came up with two sacks of Aaron Miller on The Citadel's final possession, which ended on an incomplete pass on fourth down.

The Citadel outgained Chattanooga 395-341 with Darien Robinson leading the rushing attack with 129 yards on 24 carries. Eight different Bulldogs had rushing attempts in the game.

The 100-yard game is the 12th of Robinson's career and third this season. The redshirt senior passed former NFL running back Nehemiah Broughton for fifth on The Citadel's all-time rushing list with 2,652 yards and needs 141 to overtake Andrew Johnson (1973-76).

The Citadel used over nine minutes on its opening drive of the game to move the ball 90 yards in 12 plays culminating in a 13-yard touchdown run by Ben Dupree. The Bulldogs moved the chains five times on the drive, including two third down conversions, and finished the game with 21.

The score was Dupree's conference-leading 12th of the season and 30th of his career, and the senior quarterback is just one shy of tying Citadel all-time leading rusher Stump Mitchell for third in school history.

Dupree closed out the game with 56 yards on 12 attempts to improve his career total to 2,345 as he closes in on Maurice Murphy (2,350) for seventh place in program history in rushing yards.

After a quick three-and-out on the Mocs' opening drive, the Bulldogs took over at midfield and converted two more first downs before the drive stalled at the UTC 6. Thomas Warren split the uprights on a 23-yard field goal to give The Citadel a 10-0 lead.

The field goal was Warren's 15th of his career, which is good for 11th most in school history. The senior kicker added three more extra points to remain a perfect 70-for-70 in his career and moved him past Hank Burriss for the fifth most PATs made in Citadel history.

The Mocs took the ensuing drive into the second quarter and was able to get their first points of the game on a Kendrix Huitt rush over the left tackle from seven yards out to narrow The Citadel lead to 10-7.

The Bulldogs got back to work and marched right down the field with a five-minute drive that went 75 yard on nine plays. With Aaron Miller under center, the junior converted a 3rd-and-1 with his legs, followed by a 3rd-and-5 with his arm on a six-yard pass to Vinny Miller.

Two plays later Miller connected with Jake Stenson for a 41-yard touchdown to put the Bulldogs ahead 17-7. Stenson has now been the receiver for three of the Bulldogs' four touchdowns through the air this season.

Miller finished the game 5-of-9 passing with 56 yards. The touchdown was his second of the season and third of his career.

The Bulldogs entered the half with a 267-83 edge over the Mocs in yards and accumulated 215 on the ground through the first 30 minutes. UTC's ground game was hampered when its leading rusher, Keon Williams, left the game in the first quarter with a foot injury.

After a drive deep into Bulldogs' territory stalled, a 42-yard punt by Eric Goins started the Mocs' drive at The Citadel 48. UTC used eight plays in just under three minutes to get back in the end zone with a four-yard touchdown pass from Huesman to tight end Faysal Shafaat to make it a 17-14 game.

Huesman finished the game with 102 yards and two touchdowns on 9-of-19 passing.

The Bulldogs returned the favor less than two minutes later when Dalton Trevino took an outside handoff from the Bulldog 39 and ran untouched around the left end for a career-long 61-yard touchdown at the six-minute mark of the third quarter. The scamper extended the Bulldogs' lead to 24-14 and was the longest rushing touchdown allowed this season by the conference- leading Mocs defense, which entered the game allowing just 156 yards per game on the ground.

Chattanooga found the end zone one more time in the third quarter on Huesman's second touchdown pass, a 33-yarder to Xavier Borishade, to shrink the Bulldog lead to three points, 24-21.

Both defenses held tough and stymied the offenses through most of the fourth quarter. Carl Robinson and Rah Muhammad led The Citadel with six tackles. Muhasibi Wakeel led all tacklers with 17 for UTC while teammate D.J. Key recorded 13.

Muhammad and Nick Willis both recorded two tackles for loss apiece, including Willis' first career sack.

Derek Douglas posted his 14th career sack in the second quarter to move him past former teammate Chris Billingslea for fifth most in program history. The tackle for loss jumps the senior captain into a tie with Michael Ballentine for seventh place with 36.5 on his career.

The Citadel returns to Charleston for homecoming next Saturday, a 2 p.m. kickoff against conference leader Samford. Former Bulldog football player and 1960 graduate Paul Maguire will provide analysis on ESPN3 while former "Voice of the Bulldogs" Darren Goldwater will handle the play-by-play.

Chattanooga, which is currently in second place in the conference, treks to Boone, N.C., to take on Appalachian State in a 3:30 p.m. contest.