Southern Conference Football 2014: Recap Part 1 of 2

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Chattanooga Was Dominant In Claiming Their Second-Straight SoCon Title And Sixth In Program History In 2014

Chattanooga simply dominated its way to a second-straight Southern Conference crown, including garnering the program’s second FCS playoff berth and first in three decades. It was the culmination of six years of hard work for Mocs head coach Russ Huesman, who has battled to get the Chattanooga program back to being a perennial title contender in the Southern Conference, which it was during the late 1970s and early ‘80s.

The Mocs went 7-0 in league play, becoming the first team to finish league play unbeaten since Appalachian State in 2009. The Mocs did so by producing one of the most dominant runs through league play in the history of the SoCon, defeating foes by an average of 26.5 PPG. It was the largest margin of victory by any SoCon team throughout a season since Marshall in 1996.

The Mocs were the lone qualifier for the FCS football playoffs out of the Southern Conference in 2014, which marked the first time since 2003 when Wofford was the only selection to the league’s postseason in that particular campaign. The Mocs’ dominating performance in league play was good enough to garner the Mocs the No. 8 seed heading into the postseason, meaning that for the first time in program history, the Mocs would host an FCS playoff game.

The Mocs would roll over Indiana State, 35-14, in the opening round of the postseason, marking the first FCS playoff win in the history of the program. Unfortunately, however, the Mocs would see their season end in the FCS quarterfinals with a 35-30 loss on the road at No. 1 seed New Hampshire.

The Mocs appeared to be on their way to another historic win for the program, leading the Wildcats 21-15 lead at the half, dominating every statistical category. However, the Wildcats stormed back in the second half, out-scoring the Mocs 20-9 to hand Chattanooga the season-ending loss.

Over the past two seasons, the Mocs have now taken the place of Georgia Southern or Appalachian State as the team to beat and the standard by which to be compared in the Southern Conference. The Mocs are 13-2 against Southern Conference foes over the past two seasons.

The Mocs have had some truly great players on both sides of the ball that have helped contribute to their success in the SoCon over the past two seasons, including quarterback Jacob Huesman and defensive end Davis Tull.

Huesman, a junior, picked up his second SoCon Offensive Player of the Year award for his efforts in 2014, as he finished the season with the nation’s highest completion percentage (67.6%), fifth in passing efficiency (156.2), fifth in points responsible for (222), 14th in passing TDs (23) and 20th in rushing scores (14).

In total, Huesman completed the 2014 season connecting on 226-of-330 passes for 2,731 yards, 23 TDs and only eight INTs. As a rushing threat, Huesman rushed the ball 197 times for 1,009 yards and 14 scores. He presided over one of the best offenses in school history, as the Mocs averaged 411.5 YPG.

The 2014 season marked the end of a great career, as defensive end Davis Tull set a new SoCon standard with 37 career sacks, as he became the first player since Appalachian State’s two-time Buck Buchanan Award winner Dexter Coakley to win the league’s defensive player of the year award in three-straight seasons.

Tull finished his senior season by leading the SoCon in sacks (10.5) and tackles-for-loss (18). Four times in Huesman’s six seasons as head coach a Chattanooga player has claimed the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award. Tull finished 12th in the voting for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the best defensive player in FCS football.

The Mocs also had one of the best newcomers in the SoCon, in freshman defensive back Lucas Webb. Webb would tie for the league lead with six INTs, and would finish 16th in the voting for the Jerry Rice Award, given to the nation’s top freshman player.

Next: Western Carolina Revival