The Citadel Rallies to Comeback Victory Over No. 17 Chattanooga, 28-27
Chattanooga, Tenn. – The Citadel scored 28 unanswered points in the second half to propel the Bulldogs to a 28-27 come-from-behind victory over the Chattanooga Mocs before a crowd of 10,727 at Finley Stadium on Saturday in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Turnovers and penalties plagued the Bulldogs in the first two-and-a-half quarters, after losing three of four fumbles that turned into Chattanooga scores. However, an early second half interception by cornerback Brandon McCladdie boosted The Citadel to the biggest comeback since Oct. 13, 1973. In that game, also against Chattanooga, the Bulldogs rallied from a 20-6 halftime deficit to score 22 unanswered points and win 28-20 at home.
After allowing 253 offensive yards in the first half, the Bulldog defense limited the Mocs to 57 second half yards, while the offense capitalized in the red zone.
Down 27-0 early in the third quarter, McCladdie intercepted a B.J. Coleman pass on the first play of the series and returned it 30 yards to the UTC 20-yard line to put the Bulldogs in the red zone for the first time in the game with 7:11 left in the third quarter. The Bulldog offense took advantage of a solid 18-yard run by Rickey Anderson and moved to the Chattanooga 2-yard line. Three plays later, Dupree scored on a 1-yard quarterback keeper, making the score 27-7 with 5:21 left in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs kept the momentum going as the defense forced a Chattanooga punt on the next possession. The offense drove the ball 72 yards in seven plays, taking 2:44 off the clock, to pull within 27-14 of the lead on a 42-yard run by Dupree to end the third quarter.
The Citadel would not look back from there as the Mocs suffered a fourth quarter meltdown that included two Coleman sacks for a loss of 16 yards and his second interception of the game, while the Bulldogs continued to rally with special teams jumping in on the scoring.
As defense forced another Chattanooga punt at the end of the second UTC fourth quarter possession, Chris Billingslea blocked a Mike Hammonds kick, allowing linebacker Rod Harland to scoop it up for the 40-yard return for a touchdown. Ryan Sellers' extra point attempt was good and The Citadel narrowed the margin, 27-21, with 7:46 left in the game.
The Citadel defense made another huge stop, forcing a three-and-out on the next Chattanooga drive, allowing the Bulldog offense to rally for the win. This time with freshman quarterback Aaron Miller in for an injured Dupree. After fullback Darien Robinson rushed over the Mocs' left guard for a 34-yard gain, back-to-back runs by Miller put The Citadel back in the red zone at the UTC 17-yard line. A series of plays between Miller and Robinson ended with Robinson in the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown run to give The Citadel their first lead of the night, 28-27, with 2:28 left in the game.
The Bulldog defense sealed the deal with a Davis Boyle interception on the second play of what became Chattanooga's final drive of the game. Miller returned under center to run the last five plays of the game, earning a first down and allowing the clock to expire on the final play.
The Citadel totaled 268 yards of offense, all but three on the ground, while Chattanooga finished with 309 total yards. The Bulldog running game was led by Dupree with 83 yards on 22 carries, but was backed with solid performances by Robinson and Miller, who recorded 79 and 61 yards, respectively. Harland led the defense with seven total tackles, including a sack for a loss of three yards and one blocked kick return for a touchdown.
Coleman completed 19-of-33 passes with two interceptions and one touchdown for 253 yards. He found freshman wide receiver Ron Moore twice for a total of 112 yards, including Moore's first collegiate catch and touchdown for 60 yards.
The Bulldogs improve to 2-2 overall and 1-2 in the SoCon, while Chattanooga drops to 2-3 overall and 0-2 in SoCon action.
The Bulldogs will return home for a SoCon matchup against Wofford on Saturday, Oct. 8. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Johnson Hagood Stadium. For more information on Bulldog Football, visit the official website of The Citadel Athletics at www.CitadelSports.com or follow the Dogs on Facebook and Twitter at facebook.com/citadelsports and twitter.com/citadelfootball.