Breakaway Begins Breakout Game For UTC Receiver Bryce Nunnelly

UTC wide receiver Bryce Nunnelly catches a pass during UTC's home opener against Tennessee Tech on Thursday August 30. (Times Free Press Photo: Erin O. Smith)

Bryce Nunnelly saw the crease, and he knew he was gone.

From the sideline, Jerrell Lawson knew his 6-foot-2, 190-pound University of Tennessee at Chattanooga teammate wasn't going to get caught, either.

The sophomore's 89-yard touchdown sprint off a Nick Tiano screen pass provided the Mocs' first touchdown in their 34-10 win over Tennessee Tech on Thursday (and Friday) at Finley Stadium.

"I knew that man was gone," Lawson said afterward. "I've watched that man run for days against our defense, so I knew (the Golden Eagles) weren't catching him."

The former Walker Valley High School standout finished fourth in the 2017 TSSAA Class AAA state decathlon and had top-five finishes in the 100-meter dash as well as the 400, where he placed second. He flashed that speed Thursday, catching seven passes for 161 yards and the score in his first career start.

Nunnelly matched his 2017 season total for catches and nearly doubled his 2017 yardage output against the Golden Eagles. He also had a 42-yard reception on the Mocs' second drive, which ended in a Victor Ulmo field goal.

"Bryce played very well," UTC coach Tom Arth said after the storm-interrupted game finally ended early Friday. "He has trained as hard anyone in our program. He has practiced as well as anyone in our program. It's not a surprise to anyone on our team that he went out there and played the way he did tonight.

"It means so much to him, and it's what we see every day in practice from him. I'm very proud of him and all of our guys and the way we handled this evening's events."

Nunnelly felt confident he was going the distance on the score, but he looked up at the newly installed video board at Finley Stadium just to make sure there was no one around him. He was sprung by a big Jordan Giberti block about 10 yards downfield after the catch.

"Tonight was a really good feeling," Nunnelly said. "That's probably the best I've ever felt after a football game. Most importantly, we won the game, and I had a good first start and that means a lot."

The Mocs are on the road for their next two games, getting Southern Conference play started Saturday with a game at The Citadel. The next week, they travel to UT-Martin.

Contact Gene Henley at Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3.

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