There was no miracle comeback this time, and no sign of The Citadel football team that knocked off two top 10 teams in the season’s first three weeks.
The Bulldogs learned Saturday night that winning a Southern Conference title won’t be as easy as it might have looked during a 3-0 start that included wins over league powers Georgia Southern and Appalachian State.
A desperate Chattanooga team came into Johnson Hagood Stadium and shut down the Bulldogs’ option attack, taking a 28-10 victory before a disappointed crowd of 13,378.
The 11th-ranked Bulldogs fell to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the SoCon heading into next week’s game at Samford.
Mocs quarterback Terrell Robinson ran for 97 yards and a touchdown and threw for another score as Chattanooga kept its season alive at 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the SoCon.
Down 21-3 in the third quarter, the Bulldogs hung in the game on backup quarterback Aaron Miller’s 32-yard TD run, cutting Chattanooga’s lead to 21-10 heading into the final period.
But the Mocs — who blew a 27-0 lead in a 28-27 loss to the Bulldogs last season — quickly squashed any hope for another miracle.
Quarterback Jacob Huesman went right up the middle for a 36-yard gain. Running back Kendrix Huitt followed the same route for a 29-yard TD and Chattanooga led by 28-10 with 12:59 left in the game.
The Citadel’s comeback hopes were foiled by two late turnovers, on a fumble and an interception. Fullback Darien Robinson popped a 55-yard run in the final minutes, but the Mocs stuffed Miller on 4th-and-1 at the 5-yard line to end the Bulldogs’ final threat.
The Citadel had a chance to step on the Mocs early, outgaining Chattanooga by 122-16 in the first quarter, with six first downs to one for Chattanooga.
But the Bulldogs could turn those yards into only a 32-yard field goal by Thomas Warren, for a 3-0 lead at 9:29 of the first quarter.
The half turned when backup quarterback Terrell Robinson entered the game for the Mocs in the second quarter. His 51-yard bomb to receiver Ron Moore set up Chattanooga’s first TD.
On second down from the Bulldogs’ 13, Robinson scrambled left and then right, avoiding tacklers and giving Moore enough time to come uncovered in the right corner of the end zone. The 13-yard TD pass gave the Mocs a 7-3 lead with 7:36 left in the half.
The Mocs drove 82 yards in 15 plays for their second TD, with starting QB Jacob Huesman hitting five straight passes for 35 yards. Faced with first down at The Citadel 1 with 10.2 seconds left, Mocs coach Russ Huesman went for the touchdown.
His son hit tight end Faysal Shafaat on a quick out route for the TD, and a 14-3 lead at the half.
The Mocs extended the lead to 21-3 in the third quarter with a 13-play, 85-yard drive, their longest of the season. Robinson ran three yards for the TD, again avoiding tacklers in the backfield.