By Ryan Alves
Dating back to last season the Colonels are 0-6, including Saturday’s 42-24 loss to Chattanooga. This season marks the first time the Colonels have started 0-3 since 2005.
Playing their third non-conference road game, the Colonels hoped to pick up a win before the bye week, instead the Mocs piled up 548 total yards.
Eastern (0-3, 0-0) was held under 300 yards. Most of the offense came from quarterback T.J. Pryor, who threw for 236 yards with two touchdown passes and three interceptions.
UTC was able to force Pryor from the pocket with different blitz schemes and stunts. Pryor was sacked six times.
“They were just able to push our line back,” Pryor said. “They just wanted it more than we did. They did a great job at the defensive line.”
The Mocs took the opening kick-off and put together an eight play, 76-yard touchdown drive. Quarterback B.J. Coleman connected with Sloan Allison on a 21-yard post pattern to give UTC an early 7-0 lead.
Eastern then put together its longest drive of the night, 11 plays, but came up empty when Logan O’Connor missed a 36-yard field goal wide right.
UTC converted on Eastern’s mishap just two plays later when Coleman’s deep pass was tipped and found the arms of Joel Bradford who out-raced the Colonels for the 80-yard touchdown.
The Colonels scored late in the first quarter when Yameen Thomas, on a late blitz, hammered Coleman in his own end zone for the sack and safety.
After the ensuing kickoff, Pryor marched his offense 65 yards and found Tyrone Goard across the middle for the score. It was Pryor’s first passing touchdown of the season.
The Mocs scored again when they intercepted Pryor one play after Eastern faked a punt to convert on fourth down. On their next drive Erroll Wynn rushed in from two yards to close out the half. Wynn finished with 122 rushing yards. The Mocs led 28-9 at the half.
Early in the third, Coleman and his offense picked things up where they left off and extended their lead to 35-9 after Coleman connected with Allison on the post pattern.
But Eastern kept fighting. After completing several screen passes and short outs, Pryor found a wide-open Orlandus Harris who tip toed the sidelines and dove over the pylon for the score. Harris played at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga.
The Colonels defense held their ground shutting out the Mocs on their next two drives. Eastern looked like it would make a ball game out of things when Marcus Williams blocked a UTC punt and Shawn Shupperd scooped and scored from 25 yards out. Pryor ran in the two-point conversion, to cut the UTC lead to 35-24.
The lone bright spot for the Colonels was their play on special teams. But Eastern’s Head Coach Dean Hood knows that special teams is just one facet of the game.
“We’re 3-0 on special teams,” Hood said. “We beat Missouri State, Louisville and these guys on special teams. But we can’t win on offense or defense.”
The Mocs got the ball back with seven minutes to go and were able to dwindle down the clock with a nine-play drive. Keon Williams punched in their final score.
Kadeem Wise intercepted Eastern’s last chance and UTC ran out the clock in the victory formation.
But despite the sour events his team had faced Hood was proud of his team for not rolling over.
“We knew we were facing a team that had given up some leads late in the second half,” Hood said. “Our guys kept fighting. We knew if we could just hang in there and makes some plays and put some doubt in their mind we could get this thing steam rolling. But it ended up not going that way.”
The Colonels have a bye week upcoming and then face Kentucky State in their home opener. Hood knows his team has a lot to work on and things to improve it wants to stop this losing streak.
“We can take away from this is that we are not a very good football team right now,” Hood said. “We have a lot of things to work on. It’s the same things. Football hasn’t changed. You still have to block, tackle, be assignment sound and play with low-pad level. It’s just the basic fundamentals that we have to get better at as players and as coaches.