Chattanooga 21

(2-3, 1-1 Southern)

Citadel 24

(1-3, 1-0 Southern)

2:00 PM ET, September 30, 2006

Johnson Hagood Stadium, Charleston, SC

1 2 3 4 T
CHAT 0 7 0 1421
CIT 10 14 0 024

Top Performers

Passing: D. Lawson (CIT) - 324 YDS, 2 TD, 2 INT

Rushing: E. Buckley (CHAT) - 23 CAR, 153 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: M. Johnson (CHAT) - 7 REC, 106 YDS, 1 TD

Citadel 24, Chattanooga 21

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) -- Winless going into Saturday's game, The Citadel apparently responded to a pep talk from former linebacker Marc Buoniconti and held off Chattanooga 24-21 to get its first victory of the season.

Quarterback Duran Lawson passed for 324 yards and two touchdowns for The Citadel, (1-3, 1-0 Southern Conference). Tailback Eldra Buckley ran for 153 yards and a touchdown, his eighth straight 100-yard performance, for Chattanooga (2-3, 1-1).

"Today I feel like more of a whole man," said Buoniconti, the former Citadel linebacker who was left paralyzed from the shoulders down after making a tackle against East Tennessee State back in 1985.

Buoniconti was on campus on Friday to celebrate his 40th birthday. He received a class of 1988 Citadel ring, spoke to members of the football team and saw his jersey retired.

On Saturday, he addressed the crowd of 12,757 from the blue-and-white checkered end zone at halftime, surrounded by family and friends. Citadel President John Rosa and athletic director Les Robinson held a frame with Buoniconti's No. 59 jersey behind him.

"I am proud to be finally able to say 'I wear the ring,' " Buoniconti said to loud cheers from the crowd.

The Citadel, which churned out 418 yards in total offense, led 24-7 at halftime. But then, after a scoreless third quarter, had to hold off a furious rally by Chattanooga.

With just over 10 minutes to play, Buckley scored on a 14-yard run. Then, three minutes later, Matt Lopez tossed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Michael Johnson to bring Chattanooga to within three.

The game wasn't decided until a 39-yard field goal attempt by Chattanooga's Esteban Lopez sailed wide left with 31 seconds left.

Buoniconti, who was 19 when he was injured, spent a year in the hospital and later filed a negligence suit against the state military college. The school and trainer reached an $800,000 settlement during a 1988 trial.

Years of estrangement between Buoniconti and the school followed.

But the relationship thawed last spring when Buoniconti attended the college's Corps Day and the school's Board of Visitors voted to retire his jersey.

Buoniconti and his father, former Miami Dolphins All-Pro Nick Buoniconti, have raised almost $200 million for The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.