GREENVILLE, S.C. -- B.J. Coleman passed for 432 yards and two touchdowns and keyed a 26-point fourth quarter comeback to propel FCS 24th-ranked Chattanooga to a 36-28 homecoming victory over 25th-ranked Furman Saturday afternoon at Paladin Stadium.
Coleman, who completed 33-of-58 passes, overcame four interceptions to help the Mocs (5-2, 4-1 SoCon) erase a 28-10 fourth quarter deficit and snap a 15-game series losing streak to Furman (4-3, 2-2 SoCon).
Coleman's 9-yard scoring strike to Joel Bradford midway through the final period gave UTC a 29-28 lead. The Mocs' Josh Williams then pounced on a Furman fumble at the Paladin 11-yard line, and on the next play Chris Awuah split two defenders on an 11-yard run into the end zone to cap UTC's outburst.
Furman's potential bid to tie the game ended when the Mocs' Kadeem Wise intercepted a pass by Paladin quarterback Cody Worley at the UTC 22 with 2:24 remaining.
"Our defense played some gutty football today, but we left them on the field entirely too long, and Chattanooga took advantage of our mistakes in the fourth quarter," said Furman head coach Bobby Lamb. "We just couldn't possess the football and back up some good early play by our defense and special teams."
Bradford, a junior flanker, teamed up with Coleman to do the most damage for the Mocs, catching 15 passes for a school record 274 yards. UTC fashioned a 568-227 advantage in total offense and ran 102 plays to Furman's 54. The Mocs also totaled 33 first downs to Furman's 12 and enjoyed a 36:32-23:28 differential in time of possession.
Furman's offense failed to produce points in 10 of its final 11 possessions.
Despite the impressive statistics, Chattanooga almost let early turnovers and poor special teams play decide the contest.
Furman cornerback Ryan Steed gathered in a tipped Coleman pass and returned it 63 yards for a touchdown midway through the first quarter to give the Paladins a 7-0 lead.
The Mocs got on the board on their next possession with a 20-yard Jeff Veres field goal, but only after failing to take advantage of a first and goal situation at the Furman 2.
A Worley 5-yard scoring run three minutes into the second quarter put Furman up 14-3, and the Paladins followed it up with a strong rush on fourth down on the Mocs' ensuing possession, forcing UTC punter Mike Hammons to the ground at the Chattanooga 23. Three plays later Worley lofted a pass behind the UTC secondary and into the hands of tight end Colin Anderson for a 21-3 Furman advantage.
Chattanooga made it a 21-10 game with a Coleman 11-yard touchdown pass to Chris Pitchford, but only after the Mocs' Erroll Wynn's fumble into the end zone was recovered by Rick Furman, ending a 6-play, 75-yard drive.
UTC's frustration continued on its final possession of the first half. After moving 57 yards in 10 plays to the Furman 5, the Mocs' turned it over when Paladin free safety Nathan Wade gathered in a pass in the back of the end zone with 24 second remaining.
Furman added to its lead early in the third quarter after rover Max Lerner intercepted a Coleman aerial at the Chattanooga 47. Five plays later Worley hooked up with Anderson again, this time for a 27-yard strike that extended Furman's lead to 28-10 at the 9:19 mark.
Lerner made it two interceptions in successive possessions with a pickoff and 16-yard return to the UTC 44, but Furman's offense failed to capitalize and was forced to punt.
The Mocs began their fourth quarter comeback with a J.J. Jackson 5-yard scoring run, which capped an 11-play, 45-yard drive set up by a 19-yard Furman punt.
Furman's Sederrik Cunningham then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and after UTC's Don Cope pounced on it at the Paladin 31, the Mocs covered the short distance to make it 28-23 on Wynn's 5-yard scoring run with 11:48 left.
Another Furman three-and-out gave Chattanooga the ball at its own 23 with 10:46 to go, and from there Coleman and Bradford carved up the Paladin secondary with connections of 29 and 24 yards as part of a 5-play, 77-yard drive that ended when Coleman drilled a 9-yard strike to Bradford in the back corner of the end zone. The Mocs' two-point conversion attempt failed, but the tally gave UTC a 29-28 lead — its first of the game.
The Mocs then took control with Williams' fumble recovery at the Furman 11, leading to Awuah's 11-yard scoring run on the next play.
Junior linebacker Kadarron Anderson was presented the Palmetto Patriot Award by South Carolina lieutenant governor Andre Bauer in pregame ceremonies.
Colin Anderson's two touchdown catches were the most by a Furman tight end since Luther Broughton caught two touchdown passes in a 35-20 Furman win over The Citadel in 1986.
UTC wide receiver Joel Bradford's 274 receiving yards is a new Furman opponent record. The previous standard was 247 by Ross Ortega of Nevada in 1990.
Chattanooga's 26-point fourth quarter was the most by a Paladin foe since 1997 when East Tennessee State tallied 34 points to erase d 28-24 Furman lead on the way to a 58-28 win by the Buccaneers.
Ryan Steed's 63-yard interception return for a touchdown was his second in successive games and third of his career. Last week against Samford he ran back a 57-yard pickoff for a score in a 27-10 victory, and last year he returned a 43-yard interception for a TD versus Georgia Southern (29-22 win). It was the fourth pickoff return for a TD by a Paladin this year.
Furman's four interceptions versus UTC were the most by the Paladins since Delaware in 2008 (23-21 victory).
Pictured: Max Lerner had two interceptions against Chattanooga.