Charleston, S.C. (October 12, 2002)-- It was hard-nosed, in-the-trenches, Southern Conference football at its best Saturday afternoon at Johnson Hagood Stadium when the visiting East Tennessee State Buccaneers arrived to take on the The Citadel Bulldogs. Unfortunately for the Bucs however, The Citadel was out to prove something to the rest of the league in defeating ETSU 26-7 in front of a home crowd of 17,627 screaming fans.
The Bulldog's defense posted seven sacks and 12 tackles for a loss of 62 yards in the victory. East Tennessee State's only score of the contest came on a two-yard touchdown scamper by junior running back Gaven Varner (Summerville, S.C.) Varner ran only for 60 of the team's 81 rushing yards, while The Citadel held the Bucs to just 53 yards passing.
"It was a tough day," said ETSU head coach Paul Hamilton. "We knew coming in here that we would face a big challenge from a good football team today."
The Citadel (2-4, 1-2 SoCon) started the scoring on its first drive of the game as sophomore fullback Nehemiah Broughton plowed 12 yards for his first touchdown of the game. The run capped off a four-play drive that covered 23 yards and lasted 1:44. The short drive was set up by a 41-yard punt return by Jermaine Anderson.
ETSU (3-4, 2-2 SoCon)tied the game up at the end of the first quarter on Varner's short run to paydirt, but the Bulldogs wasted no time in regaining the advantage.
Place kicker Travis Zobel nailed a 38-yard field goal with 7:50 to go in the second quarter. Zobel helped his own cause in the drive as he rused 43 yards on a muffed punt situation to give The Citadel a much-needed first down.
"The bad punt play probably turned the first half around," Hamilton said. "We had built some momentum and hoped to have the lead going into halftime."
But it was more of the Bulldog's Brouthton, who added his second touchdown of the afternoon on a two-yard score to push The Citadel's lead to 17-7. The drive lasted nine plays, covered 44 yards and ran 3:20 off of the clock in the second quarter, as the Bulldogs took a 10-point lead into the lockeroom at the half.
The Citadel added to its lead on another Zobel field goal, a 37-yarder at the 6:58 mark in the third quarter. The only other score of the half came when quarterback Jeff Klein recovered a fumble by Bulldog tailback Nate Mahoney on ETSU's one-yard line and dove into the endzone for the score. The Citadel then went for the two-point conversion but it was stopped when tight end Ross Armstrong was stuffed at the line of scrimmage by the Buccaneer defense.
On offense, wide receiver Andrew Nuckolls (Tunnel Hill, Ga.) pulled in three receptions for 25 yards and defensively, ETSU was led by junior linebacker Mike Corengay (Fayetteville, N.C.), who tallied 13 tackles, including seven solo.
Nothing positive comes from a loss unless lessons are learned and mistakes can be corrected. Hamilton hopes the Bucs can regroup and can get back on the winning track when ETSU hosts Elon in this Saturday's homecoming game, which is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.
"I hope that we can build on The Citadel's enthusiasm because there is a lot of season left," said Hamilton. "My biggest concern is getting up off of the deck and getting ready for our homecoming Saturday.
"We have been fighting adversity all year long," Hamilton added. "We can do one of two things. We have to have character enough to get back up and have a positive rest of the season."