CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) 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.

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