JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Despite a stout performance from the ETSU defense through the first three quarters, No. 10 Chattanooga broke through in the fourth, scoring 21 points in the final frame for a 24-16 victory.

The Bucs got off to a hot start in the misty drizzle, as Bryson Irby scampered in for a 36-yard score on the team’s first drive.

The Blue and Gold then blocked an Andrew Southard 48-yard field goal on the Mocs’ first possession. ETSU followed up the block with a field goal of their own, a 32-yarder from Tyler Keltner, making it 10-0.

Keltner’s right foot extended the lead in the second quarter, as well, making it 13-0. That would be the score at halftime.

The ETSU defense allowed just 68 yards of offense in the first 30 minutes, stifling a Mocs team that was averaging nearly 28 points per game.

In all, the Bucs forced a trio of turnovers, notched three sacks and tallied eight tackles for loss.

But after just a lone Chattanooga field goal in the third quarter, the visitors finally found their rhythm.

Ailym Ford punched in a nine-yard score to start the quarter, followed quickly by a Preston Hutchinson eleven-yard passing touchdown. With just over ten minutes remaining in the game, the Mocs suddenly held a 17-13 advantage.

Keltner converted his third field goal of the day from just 31 yards away, cutting the deficit to 17-16. However, Chattanooga capped off a 12-play, 75-yard drive with another Ford touchdown run, cementing the 24-16 final score.

Hutchinson finished with 221 yards passing, including a touchdown and interception for the Mocs. Ford topped the century mark, running for 101 yards on 28 carries – and scoring the two all-important touchdowns.

ETSU pounded the rock on this rainy Saturday, rushing the ball 34 times. Jacob Saylors took 22 of those carries for 93 yards, while Irby added 46 yards and the lone touchdown of the day on four carries.

“We didn’t finish some drives with touchdowns,” ETSU head coach George Quarles said after the game. “We moved it the first half – did some stuff we wanted to do, for sure. We were able to run it. But like you said, we had to settle for field goals. You know, that will come back and get you.”

“We struggled on some stuff in the first half, we struggled on some stuff in the second half,” linebacker Chandler Martin said. “We’ve just got to capitalize on our opportunities.”

Despite the quiet second half from the offense, defensive back Alijah Huzzie says the result is based on the whole group’s performance.

“We’re a team, so I wouldn’t look at it as frustration,” he said. “There’s just things we’ve got to get done.”

ETSU (2-3, 0-3 SoCon) will continue its SoCon slate next Saturday at VMI. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m.