CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- Nick Tiano threw for 278 yards and a pair of touchdowns and ran for a third as Chattanooga held off preseason favorite Samford, 27-20 in the Southern Conference opener on Saturday night.
The Mocs never trailed in the game, but neither could they shake the persistent Bulldogs.
Tiano hit Bryce Nunnally with a 55-yard touchdown pass minutes into the game to put Chattanooga (4-0, 1-0) in front for good, and after he hit Tyrell Price with an 18-yard strike to start the second quarter, the Mocs held a 17-0 advantage.
DeMarcus Ware scored from the 1 and Mitchell Fineran kicked field goals from 22- and 36-yards out to cut the lead to four, 17-13, but Tiano scored from five-yards out in the third quarter and Victor Ulmo converted a 30-yard field goal to start the fourth to push the lead to 27-13.
Devlin Hodge hit Chris Shelling with a 17-yard touchdown with 6:43 left to get Samford (1-3, 0-1) within a touchdown, but on fourth-and-three at the Chattanooga 38 Hodge was picked off by Kareem Orr to preserve the win.
Appalachian St. rolls past Middle Tenn. in N.O. Bowl, 45-13
Appalachian State receiver Malik Williams passed for two touchdowns on trick plays, quarterback Zac Thomas caught a scoring pass and threw for three more, and the Mountaineers routed Middle Tennessee 45-13 in the New Orleans Bowl on Saturday night.
Middle Tennessee's Blackenship lays out for INT
Zac Thomas throws deep and Reed Blackenship flies in after the ball is tipped in the air for the interception.
Kentucky has huge opportunity in Citrus Bowl
The SEC Now crew discusses the impact RB Benny Snell Jr. can have in his last game with the Wildcats.
Thomas connects with Sutton for 17-yard TD
Zac Smith threads the needle to Corey Sutton for a 17-yard Appalachian State touchdown.
Appalachian QB catches TD off double reverse
Malik Williams takes the reverse handoff and finds QB Zac Thomas wide open for an 8-yard touchdown.
Appalachian State trick play results in 30-yard TD
Zac Thomas throws a backwards pass to Malik Williams who finds Thomas Hennigan wide open for a 30-yard touchdown.