Football concludes 2002 season with loss at Chattanooga

Saturday, November 16, 2002

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- . Chattanooga quarterback Ryan McCann threw for 225 yards and one touchdown Saturday to lead the Mocs to a 27-10 Southern Conference victory over East Tennessee State. The win was UTC's second straight after starting the season with nine consecutive losses, while the Buccaneers lost their third fourth straight. McCann connected with Cortez Rankin on a 20-yard touchdown pass with 2:41 left in the first half to extend the Mocs' lead to 21-10. He completed 20-of-32 attempts for 225 yards and did not throw an interception. Patrick Shutters added two field goals in the fourth quarter to pad the margin. The UTC defense held ETSU (4-8, 2-6 SoCon) to 275 total yards and just 10 points. The Buccaneers, who have lost four consecutive games, have only scored 43 points in the last six conference games. The Mocs (2-9, 2-5) grabbed an early 7-0 lead on Jason Ball's three-yard touchdown run with 7:50 left in the first quarter. UTC scored on their initial possession for the second straight game. Ball's score capped a 10-play, 42-yard drive. The Bucs responded on the next possession with a 12-play march. Braye Walters (Columbia, S.C.) finished off the series with a 34-yard field goal that trimmed the lead to 7-3 at 1:51 of the first quarter. Chattanooga senior Todd Campbell returned a punt 79 yards in the second quarter which led to a six-yard Mario Hain touchdown run that increased the lead to 14-3 at 11:13 of the second quarter. The margin shot up to 21-3 two series later. Senior Cortez Rankin made a remarkable catch, falling just over the goal line on a 20-yard pass from McCann at 2:41 before the half. ETSU answered that score quickly on a 34-yard catch and run from Jatavis Sanders (Stone Mountain, Ga.) to Gaven Varner (Summerville, S.C.). The touchdown, which proved to be the Bucs' final score, trimmed the deficit to 21-10 just 42 seconds before intermission. The Mocs forced two second-half turnovers to help seal the win. Senior Sheldon Green fell on a Varner fumble at the UTC 17-yard line late in the third period, and Bernard Snowden picked up a fumble caused by Blake Kirkland's hit on Sanders late in the fourth quarter. "I felt like the turnovers made a difference today," ETSU head coach Paul Hamilton said. "They (UTC) did not have one all day, and ours really hurt us." Ball led UTC on the ground with 55 yards on 20 carries. Sanders paced the Bucs with 54 yards on 19 rushes. Varner set season-highs for ETSU with seven catches for 84 yards. Senior Joey Peters caught a career-best six balls for 51 yards for UTC. Shutters, who was perfect on field goal attempts heading into the game, missed from 23 yards out in the second quarter and 37 yards in the fourth. He connected from 27 yards with 10:46 to play and nailed a career-long 42-yarder with 3:38 remaining.
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