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One Too Many Cannons

By Jim Johnson
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The atmosphere was not one of a mid-season game in October, rather a conference title game, closer to 2017.

The atmosphere was not one of a mid-season game in October, rather a conference title game, closer to 2017.

Perhaps because, effectively, this was the de facto SoCon Championship.

When Alejandro Bennifield’s last gasp hail mary fell harmlessly to the dirt, a fiery Brent Thompson allowed the elation to wash over him as the cannons sounded off, echoing throughout Johnson-Hagood Stadium.

The palatial gridiron fell quiet as the fans joined their team in singing the alma mater. After that, it was pandemonium -- children running all over the field, some parents, too.

Barring some greatly unforeseen circumstances, the Citadel will roll to a second consecutive conference title, however, this one, they won’t be sharing.

In a hotly contested battle of wills, the Bulldogs fought just a little bit harder. Maybe it’s because they were the underdogs, maybe it was the energy pulsating from the stands, in any case, the Citadel just had that extra something that it needed.

Junior quarterback Dominique Allen led the way for the playoff-bound ‘Dogs. The Richmond Hill-native earned a hard 135 yards on the ground, over 31 gritty carries.

However, most impressive of all was the Citadel’s unwavering run defense. The Mocs’ star running back Derrick Craine was bottled up for just 35 yards on eight carries. As a team, Chattanooga averaged under three yards per carry.

The Mocs did show some offensive firepower behind the arm of first-year starting quarterback Alejandro Bennifield.

The junior beat the Bulldogs deep on a couple of balls to wideout CJ Board, who caught six passes for 120 yards and one of UTC’s two scores. Craine also piled up 55 yards on two receptions, out of the backfield.

As Coach Thompson and company move forward and prepare for the playoffs, they must make an effort to limit the big plays allowed.

All things considered though, against a team that has owned the SoCon for a few years now, the Citadel was the better team when it counted. Brent Thompson has continued to build on Mike Houston’s success, whilst adding some of his own flavor.

Again, as long as the Bulldogs keep doing what they’ve been doing, they will be the lone SoCon champions in 2016.

Jim Johnson - Editor of Southern Pigskin, Producer of "Three & Out", and host of "Explosive Recruiting" on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. E-mail: Twitter: @JimJohnsonSP