Chattanooga QB Bennifield suspended 4 games

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(STATS) - Chattanooga quarterback Alejandro Bennifield has been suspended for the first four games of the season because of an NCAA academic issue.

Bennifield's final appeal to play was denied Thursday, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. The senior for the Mocs - the 12th-ranked team in the STATS FCS preseason poll - will start his suspension for Saturday's Guardian Kickoff Classic in Montgomery, Alabama against No. 6 Jacksonville State. He will also miss the Mocs' games with LSU, UT Martin and VMI.

A second-team All-SoCon selection last season, Bennifield completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 2,622 yards with 26 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also ran for 377 yards and had another six scores on the ground to lead the Mocs to a third straight playoff berth.

He will be replaced by sophomore Nick Tiano, who transferred to Chattanooga after playing at Mississippi State last season.