Record crowd of 13,863 watch ETSU rally from 18-point deficit for historic win in return to SoCon
BRISTOL, Tenn. (Sept. 17, 2016) – For the ETSU football team, simply playing in a historic game wasn’t enough. The Buccaneers wanted to win it ... and they did.
Thanks to an epic comeback, the Bucs overcame an 18-point, first-half deficit to score 24 unanswered points, taking the lead in the second half and defeating Western Carolina 34-31 Saturday afternoon in the Food City Bucs at Bristol game at Bristol Motor Speedway.
In the Bucs first Southern Conference game since 2003, an ETSU program-record crowd of 13,863 fans looked on as the Bucs improved to 2-0 on the season and 1-0 in league play. Meanwhile, WCU dropped to 1-2, 0-1. This marked the second straight time the Bucs took down a team who was receiving votes in the STATS FCS Top 25 poll.
The turning point of the game came as ETSU trailed 21-3 with two minutes left in the first half and Western Carolina was driving on offense. A 43-yard pass to the Catamounts’ Spearman Robinson took the ball to the ETSU 30-yard line, but as he was tackled, the Bucs’ Daren Ardis (Bradenton, Fla.) punched the ball loose and teammate Kevin Ferguson (Cincinnati, Ohio) recovered with 1:23 left before the intermission.
ETSU then took the ball 71 yards in eight plays to close the half with a touchdown to make it 21-10. Instead of trailing by as much as 25 points at 28-3, the Bucs were back in the ball game at 21-10 and outscored the Catamounts 31-10 the rest of the game to take the victory.
HOW THEY SCORED
Western Carolina 7, ETSU 0: Western Carolina needed a fake punt by Ian Berryman to keep its second possession of the game alive, and the gamble paid off with a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 1-yard run from tailback Detrez Newsome. Logan Howard’s extra point was good and the Catamounts took the early seven-point lead.
Western Carolina 7, ETSU 3: The Bucs finally broke through on the scoreboard, taking advantage of a roughing the passer penalty to move into position for a field goal. A fantastic 28-yard catch by Chad Pritchard (Elizabethton) powered the drive and led to a 43-yard field goal by JJ Jerman (Seymour).
Western Carolina 13, ETSU 3: The Catamounts’ passing game came alive at this point, as redshirt freshman quarterback Tyrie Adams connected for five completions and capped the nine-play, 71-yard drive with an 11-yard scoring pass to Newsome. The extra point was blocked by the Bucs Tremond Ferrell (Washington, Ga.) and the WCU lead increased to 10.
Western Carolina 21, ETSU 3: On the next possession of the game, a fumble by ETSU’s Falon Lee (Macclenny, Fla.) set up the Catamounts on a short field, as they needed just five plays to go 32 yards and score on a 12-yard run by Newsome. The two-point conversion was good and the WCU lead increased to 18.
Western Carolina 21, ETSU 10: After recovering a WCU fumble at its own 29-yard line, the Bucs took just 1:19 off the clock to close out the half with an Austin Herink (Cleveland) touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Vincent Lowe (Chesapeake, Va.). Jerman’s extra point was good and the deficit was cut to 11.
Western Carolina 21, ETSU 17: Assisted by a handful of Western Carolina penalties, the Bucs took their first drive of the second half 75 yards on 10 plays to score on another Herink pass from 12 yards out to freshman wide receiver Keith Coffee (Lilburn, Ga.). Again, Jerman was perfect on the extra point and the deficit stood at four.
ETSU 24, Western Carolina 21: After a three-and-out on defense, the Bucs’ rally continued and ETSU took its first lead of the game thanks to an impressive 16-play, 76-yard that ended with a Herink pass to sophomore running back Matt Thompson (Morristown). On the drive, ETSU rushed the ball 11 times to control the clock and basically take most of the third quarter time of possession. The drive totaled seven minutes, twenty-six seconds.
ETSU 27, Western Carolina 21: The Bucs opened the fourth quarter scoring with a 30-yard field goal from Jerman. The drive encompassed 67 yards over eight plays.
ETSU 27, Western Carolina 24: After watching the Bucs score 24 unanswered points, the Catamounts finally got back on the scoreboard with a 39-yard field goal from Howard.
ETSU 34, Western Carolina 24: Facing a third down and needing four yards with 2:45 left on the clock at the Western Carolina 24-yard line, Herink went to the air again in a gutsy play that ended with a catch by sophomore wide receiver Drake Powell (Clinton) at the 1-yard line. Three plays later, sophomore running back Jajuan Stinson (Knoxville) battled his way into the end zone and gave the Bucs a 10-point lead with 1:19 left in the game. The 75-yard, 13-play drive ended with ETSU up 10.
ETSU 34, Western Carolina 31: The Catamounts had one last gasp left, regaining some life thanks to a 45-yard touchdown pass from Adams to Newsome with 13 seconds left. The extra point was good, but ETSU recovered the ensuing on-side kick to take the win.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
The Bucs’ offense outgained the Catamounts 474 yards to 443 on the day. Herink was impressive, going 24-of-37 through the air for 269 yards and threw for three scores without an interception. He also rushed for another 56 yards on 11 carries. He set career highs for passing completions and yards, while tying his personal best with three scores in the air. The 269 passing yards marked the most by the Bucs since restarting football last season.
Stinson – who has rushed for touchdowns in his first two games this season – finished with 95 yards rushing on 18 carries and scored once.
The Bucs’ Lowe, Thompson and Coffey all scored their first collegiate touchdowns.
In the receiving corp, the Bucs’ had 10 different players catch a pass in the game. Lowe led the way with five receptions, while sophomore Hunter Wike (Canton, N.C.) posted a team-high 52 yards receiving on two catches.
Jerman continued his impressive work as the Bucs’ kicker. He was a perfect four-for-four on extra points, while hitting on field goals of 43 and 30 yards. Jerman – the SoCon Special Teams Player of the Week following the season-opening win at Kennesaw State – has now made 28 straight PATs in his collegiate career, while the Fred Mitchell Award Watch List selection has made all four field goals this year.
Defensively, Dylan Weigel (Pickerington, Ohio) paced the Blue and Gold with nine tackles, marking the 10th time of his career he has led the team in tackles ... Redshirt freshman Jason Maduafokwa (Seymour, Tenn.) made his collegiate debut and recorded ETSU’s sacks … As a group, the Bucs broke up nine passes – including a career-high three by Ardis … Ardis also totaled four tackles (one for loss) and forced the fumble … Junior defensive back Paul Hunter (Denton, Texas) ended with five solo tackles and Ryan Powers (Jupiter, Fla.) – who entered the game as the FCS leader in solo tackles – finished with five tackles (four solo).
ETSU’s defense has now forced at least one turnover in its last three games.
This was the Bucs first SoCon game in over 4,684 days, dating back to the end of the 2003 season. With the victory, ETSU moves to within one win of evening up the all-time series with the Catamounts, as Western Carolina now leads the series 23-22-1.
This marks the first time the Bucs have won consecutive games to start a season since winning four straight to open the 1999 campaign … With the victory, ETSU extended its SoCon win streak to three straight games as the Bucs defeated Chattanooga (68-7) and The Citadel (16-13) to end the 2003 season.
This game was the Road to Frisco FCS Game of the Week. The Bucs entered as 29-point underdogs. It marks the second straight win for the Bucs when their opponent was favored for 20 or more points.
Newsome was selected the SoCon Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, but despite totaling 172 all-purpose yard, the Buccaneer defense limited him to 32 rushing yards on 11 carries. Newsome did score all four of the Catamounts touchdowns. In addition to Newsome, Adams continued to impress as a freshman quarterback, throwing for 343 yards on 26-of-39 passing and rushing for another 49 yards.
The Buccaneer Sports Network interviewed head coach Carl Torbush and quarterback Austin Herink following the game, along with first and second half audio highlights. Below is audio of their interviews.
FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS
SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS
Coach Torbush, Herink, Vincent Lowe, Dylan Weigel and Jajuan Stinson talked about the conference win in the postgame press conference inside the BMS Media Center.
The Bucs will return to action next week on the road at SoCon foe Wofford. Game time in Spartanburg, S.C., is set for 1:30 p.m.
For more on ETSU football throughout the 2016 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the football link.