UTC quarterback Jacob Huesman runs a keeper play against Georgia State for a second half touchdown Saturday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Photo: Phil Skinner-Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ATLANTA — Keon Williams rushed for a career-high 147 yards, the offense topped the 500-yard mark and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga cruised to a dominating 42-14 win over Georgia State on Saturday in a mostly empty Georgia Dome.
In front of an announced crowd of 14,952 -- the actual turnout was closer to 4,000 -- the Mocs were solid in every phase of the game. It was a strong bounce-back performance after the season-opening 31-21 home loss to UT-Martin.
"We just came out here ready to play," said Williams, a former Red Bank High School standout who averaged 7.3 yards per carry and scored the game's first touchdown. "That loss last week, it didn't sit well with me. I woke up out of my sleep thinking about it. ... It really sat with me wrong all week, and I came out here ready to roll today."
Technically it is the Mocs' first win over a Football Bowl Subdivision program since a 9-7 victory over Southwestern Louisiana (now Louisiana-Lafayette) in 1984. In its fourth season of football, Georgia State (0-2) is now in the Sun Belt Conference.
It's the second loss in a row to a Southern Conference school for the Panthers, who fell to Samford 31-21 in Georgia State's first game under new coach Trent Miles and the program's first game as an FBS school.
"I don't need to look at the stats," Miles said. "I saw it on the field. [The Mocs] were the much better football team today."
Samford rushed for 105 yards against the Panthers' defense. Williams had 101 after 20 minutes of play. Williams' first carry was a 5-yard run. His second went for 11 yards. The third went for 20, and on it went.
As good as Williams was, the offensive line might have been better. And Williams gave the big guys up front plenty of credit, as did offensive coordinator Jeff Durden, whose squad gained a total of 501 yards and scored on six of its first seven full possessions.
"Keon ran the ball good, but I think this one goes to the guys up front," Durden said.
The Mocs mostly stuck with the ground attack -- quarterback Jacob Huesman had touchdown runs of 9 and 26 yards and UTC ended with 401 yards (the most since 1994) on 60 carries (most since 1991) -- but the passing game was effective as well. Huesman finished with 84 rushing yards and was 9-for-13 passing for 84 yards and two touchdowns.
Williams scored on a 2-yard run to put UTC up 7-0 with 9:28 left in the first quarter. Huesman hit tight end Faysal Shafaat on the next two scores. The first of those involved some trickery as the Mocs lined up for a long Nick Pollard field goal, then switched to a pass formation and holder/QB Huesman hit a wide-open Shafaat on the left side for a 27-yard score.
Coach Russ Huesman said UTC had that play in the bag and was waiting to use it when the offense was stalled around the opponents' 30.
"We had it ready all last week, we had it ready every time this week," Coach Huesman said. "I was going to call it the first time. It worked pretty good."
While the offense was cruising, the Panthers could do next to nothing for a long time. UTC's starting defense held Georgia State to 92 yards in the first three quarters.
The defense got pressure up front -- end Davis Tull and tackle Josh Freeman had sacks -- and the defense got a lot of hands on the ball, breaking up five passes.
"I think our guys, they weren't real happy [about getting run over by UT-Martin]," Coach Huesman said. "And that's not how we play defense here. I think today, for the most part, we showed that we can play some good defense."
The Mocs are back at Finley Stadium this Saturday for their first meeting with Austin Peay since 1968.
Contact John Frierson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6268. Follow him at twitter.com/mocsbeatCTFP.
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 ...