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Last Second Field Goal Propels Mocs Over Flames
Esteban Lopez connected on a 29-yard field goal as time expired to lift visiting Chattanooga to a thrilling 24-21 victory over Liberty, Saturday evening, at Williams Stadium.
The contest marked the best offensive output of the season for the Flames as Liberty racked up 412 yards of total offense, including an impressive 300 yards on the ground, while the Flames scored their first first half points of the season; however, it wasn't good enough for the victory as the Mocs just edged out the Flames with 424 total offensive yards, including 245 on the ground.
After a three-and-out series to start off the game, the Flames were forced to punt; however, T.T. Harper could not handle the kick, fumbling the ball at the UTC 32-yard line where Patrick Calvary was able to recover the miscue.
Five plays later, Liberty (1-5) made the most of the opportunity as Zach Terrell took a handoff and found the endzone on a three-yard run to the left side, giving the Flames a 7-0 lead with 11:54 left in the first quarter, marking Liberty's quickest score of the season.
However, Chattanooga (4-2) counter punched on the ensuing drive as the Mocs were able to march down the field and cap off an eight-play, 60-yard drive with a nine-yard play action pass from Antonio Miller to Lironnie Davis to knot the game at 7-7 with 9:02 left in the opening period.
The score remained the same for the rest of the first half; however, both teams had legitimate scoring opportunities as Zacry Kolegue had a 38-yard field goal attempt blocked by Greg McConico on the second to last play of the first quarter, while Kevin Moon picked off a Miller pass on the Flames' 26-yard line with 2:22 left before the intermission.
The Mocs took their first lead of the evening on the opening drive of the second half as Davis found an opening on the left side and evaded several defenders on a 20-yard touchdown run to finish off a 13-play, 80-yard opening half drive.
But the Flames quickly answered back as a 42-yard rushing play by Terrell up the middle followed by a 17-yard run by Brock Farrel got Liberty into the red zone where Terrell scored his second rushing touchdown of the evening on a six-yard run over the right tackle to knot the score at 14-14 with 7:49 left in the third quarter.
Both team's defenses held strong over the next 15 minutes until the Flames used 10-consecutive rushing plays to set up an 11-yard touchdown pass play from Farrel to tight end Chris Luck over the middle, giving Liberty a 21-14 lead with 5:20 left on the game clock.
But the Mocs once again answered back as Chattanooga marched 65 yards down the field on nine plays, including a one-yard run up the middle by Eldra Buckley for a touchdown with 2:13 left in the contest to tie the game at 21-21.
Liberty failed to move the chains on its ensuing drive and was forced to punt as Noah Crouch booted a 43-yard punt to pin the Mocs at their own 25-yard line with just 60 seconds left in regulation.
After a 16-yard screen pass from Miller to Buckley, Miller found Buckley open again for just a three-yard gain; however, the Flames were whistled for a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty, giving the Mocs the ball at the Liberty 40-yard line. After holding Chattanooga on the next two plays, Miller was able to find Emanuel Hassell open for a 26-yard gain on third-and-eight as the wide receiver was able to catch the pass despite double coverage by the Flames, giving Chattanooga the ball on the Flames' 12-yard line with just four ticks left on the clock.
And after a series of timeouts by both teams, Lopez was able to send the game-winning 29-yard field goal through the uprights as the clock expired, giving the visitors the victory.
Offensively, the star of the evening was Terrell as the converted quarterback rushed for 241 yards on 32 carries (averaging 7.5 yards per carry) and two touchdowns, which marked the sixth best rushing performance in school history. Buckley led the Mocs' ground game as he rushed for 111 yards on 21 carries and a score, while Davis added 98 yards and a touchdown on 15 rushing attempts.
Miller completed 21-of-35 pass attempts for 179 yards, while Farrel was 13-of-25 for 112 yards with both signal callers recording a touchdown. Luck led the Flames' receivers with 48 yards on three receptions, while Hassell was Miller's favorite target as he caught eight passes for 81 yards.
Manny Rojas finished with 13 tackles for the second-straight week to lead the Flames defense, while E.L. Estes recorded a career-best 10 tackles. Lonnie McCowan paced the Mocs with nine tackles, followed by Larry White and Jeff Phillips with eight stops each.
The Flames will continue a four-game homestand as they host former rival Towson at Williams Stadium next Saturday for a 7 p.m. contest.