The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s seniors came into their final football season with at least one win against every Southern Conference team, except Appalachian State and Elon.
After heart-breaking losses to the Mountaineers the past two seasons, the Mocs seniors finished 0-for-4 against the boys from Boone. And this Saturday they get their final shot at Elon (4-3, 2-2 SoCon).
“You don’t ever want to go through your career without beating everybody at least once,” senior linebacker Ryan Consiglio said, “and in my tenure here I’ve never beaten Elon, so I’ve got a lot of motivation to go out and win this game.”
The main motivation for the Mocs (3-4, 1-3) is to keep winning and keep their shot at the playoffs alive. But the Phoenix have befuddled UTC of late, winning the last five meetings.
At Finley Stadium last season, with UTC in a similar situation of needing wins to get playoff eligible, Elon took advantage of six Mocs turnovers, and a lot of poor plays by UTC’s defense, in a back-and-forth 49-35 win.
“Worst game of the year,” said Mocs defensive coordinator Adam Fuller, who didn’t have anything positive to say about Elon’s 45-10 win in 2009, either.
Mocs coach Russ Huesman’s summation: “I guess offensively we moved the ball pretty good last year, but defensively we were semi-useless against them.”
UTC expected pass-happy Elon, with record-setting quarterback Scott Riddle, to throw and throw against the Mocs. Instead, the Phoenix came out running the ball and met little resistance. A.J. Harris ran for 163 yards and four touchdowns.
“We were ready to stop the pass and they kind of caught us and ran the ball more,” said Consiglio, who had a career-high 16 tackles in the loss.
Elon still had 317 yards passing, with Sean Jeffcoat catching seven passes for 154 yards and Aaron Mellette, the top wideout in the SoCon this season, making nine catches for 98 yards.
Even though Riddle is gone and Jason Swepson has replaced Pete Lembo as head coach — Lembo left for Ball State — the Phoenix are still a pass-first team. Elon has 1,861 passing yards this season and 819 on the ground. Of its 136 first downs, 91 have come on pass plays.
UTC is 2-6 all-time against Elon, which joined the Southern Conference in 2003. Oddly, UTC is 2-2 at Rhodes Stadium and 0-4 against the Phoenix at Finley.
“Every game from this point on is a huge win, no matter who we’re playing,” Consiglio said. “It just happens to be Elon this week and we’re going to go out and we’re going to do our best to win and we’re going to have to do the things we always do.”
Quarterback B.J. Coleman (shoulder) did not practice Wednesday. Also held out were right guard Kevin Revis (knee) and backup defensive end Zack Rayl (hip). ... Several of UTC's wideouts struggled with drops during practice.
John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...