Bucs open Greene Stadium in style with 31-10 victory
A sold out crowd was treated to a 31-10 win by the ETSU football team on Saturday night at William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium.
Bucs open Greene Stadium in style with 31-10 victory
Saturday, September 2, 2017

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Sept. 2, 2017) – A sold out crowd was treated to a triumphant return to campus in the inaugural game at William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium on Saturday night, as the ETSU football team opened its 2017 season with a historic 31-10 win over Limestone College.

With 9,530 fans looking on, the Buccaneers played their first game on the ETSU campus since Nov. 22, 2003 and their first game outdoors on campus since Nov. 25, 1972. The moment was not lost on junior quarterback Austin Herink (Cleveland), who played an inspired game by completing his first 15 passes of the night and throwing for 239 yards in all, including three touchdowns.

The Bucs (1-0) now brace for a matchup with defending Football Championship Subdivision national champion and No. 1-ranked James Madison next Saturday at 6 p.m. in Harrisonburg, Va., The Dukes will enter the game coming off a win as well, having defeated Football Bowl Subdivision opponent East Carolina, 34-14, on Saturday. Meanwhile, Limestone heads home with a 0-1 record following the loss in Johnson City.

Along with Herink, the Bucs got a game high 88 yards rushing and a score from junior tailback Jajuan Stinson (Knoxville), while senior wide receiver Vincent Lowe had a game high five receptions for 48 yards and a touchdown. Along with Lowe, fellow wide outs Anthony Spagnoletti (Bealeton, Va.) and Andrew Heyward (Powder Springs, Ga.) each collected touchdown catches.

On the defensive side of the ball, sophomore defensive lineman Nasir Player (Columbia, S.C.) had a team and career high 10 tackles, while junior linebacker Dylan Weigel (Pickerington, Ohio) had eight stops. Senior defensive back Paul Hunter (Denton, Texas) also had a strong game with six tackles and an interception.

The Bucs outgained the Saints 379 to 222 and posted 20 first downs compared to just 13 for Limestone. For Limestone, a bright spot was quarterback Ivan Corbin, Jr., who finished with 80 yards rushing and the Saints’ lone scoring run.

HOW THEY SCORED

First Quarter

  • ETSU 7, Limestone 0 – The Bucs opened the scoring with a well-scripted, eight-play drive that ended with a 43-yard scoring strike from Herink to Heyward. On the play, Heyward received a perfect pass from Herink and raced down the right sideline to score in the north end zone, capping the 79-yard drive and giving the Bucs a 7-0 lead after junior placekicker JJ Jerman (Seymour) connected on the extra point. 

Second Quarter

  • ETSU 14, Limestone 0 – Herink once again displayed his accuracy and arm strength midway through the second quarter, finding sophomore Spagnoletti sprinting down the left sideline and into the south end zone for a 45-yard scoring strike. The seven-play, 75-yard drive took 3:43 and made it 14-0 after another Jerman kick.
  • ETSU 14, Limestone 3: The Saints finally broke through on the scoreboard with 5:53 left in the first half, but they needed help from the Bucs to make it happen. After ETSU’s Domenique Williams (Charlotte, N.C.) muffed a Limestone punt, the Saints recovered the loose ball and took over on the ETSU 21-yard line. The Bucs’ defense actually kept the Saints from gaining a yard over the next three plays, but Limestone kicker Nick Smith connected on a 38-yard field goal to make it 14-3 in favor of the Bucs.
  • ETSU 21, Limestone 3: ETSU responded to the Limestone field goal with an impressive drive that covered 62 yards in 11 plays, culminating in a 1-yard touchdown run by Stinson with 38 seconds left in the first half.

Third Quarter

  • ETSU 28, Limestone 3: The Bucs wasted little time getting back on the scoreboard in the second half, as the ETSU defense forced a three-and-out and the Saints punted from near their own end zone. After just a 28-yard punt, ETSU went to work at the Limestone 30-yard line and took just two plays for Herink to collect his third touchdown pass of the game on a 25-yard strike to Lowe. With 11:39 left in the third quarter, the Bucs led by 25 points.
  • ETSU 28, Limestone 10: Thanks to some exceptional play from Corbin, Jr., the Saints manufactured a strong 16-play, 73-yard drive over the next seven minutes of action. The possession ended on a two-yard scoring run by Corbin, who finished with 47 yards rushing on the drive. 

Fourth Quarter

  • ETSU 31, Limestone 10: The Bucs answered the Limestone score on their next possession, going 39 yards in eight plays and scoring thanks to a career long field goal by Jerman from 48 yards away. With 10:48 left, the Bucs lead was back to 21 points.

NIGHT OF FIRSTS AT GREENE STADIUM

First Score: Andrew Heyward (43-yard touchdown reception)

First Defensive Tackle: Paul Hunter

First Special Teams Tackle: Blake Bockrath

First Play: Four-yard pass from Austin Herink to Vincent Lowe.

First Interception: Paul Hunter 

First Field Goal: JJ Jerman

INSIDE THE NUMBERS 

The Bucs are now 2-1 in season openers since reinstituting the program in 2015 … In the previous two openers, the Bucs split contests with Kennesaw State, falling 56-16 in 2015 before avenging that loss with a 20-17 double-overtime win over the Owls in 2016 … Overall, the Bucs are now 40-40-3 all-time in season openers. 

Austin Herink tied a career high with three touchdown passes, as he has now accomplished the feat three times in his career … Herink also set a new single-game program record by completing 15 straight passes to start a game … The redshirt junior quarterback was 13-for-13 with 180 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.

Andrew Heyward and Anthony Spagnoletti both posted their first collegiate touchdown receptions in Saturday’s 21-point win. 

Herink completed passes to eight different receivers. 

Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Myles Smith (Chattanooga, Tenn.) got the start at right guard, marking his first collegiate start. 

Nasir Player finished with his first double-digit tackle game of his career after finishing with 10 tackles. 

The Buccaneer defense held Limestone to 2-of-15 on third down chances, while holding them to 0-of-5 on third down in the first half … ETSU was 4-of-9 on third down for the contest, along with going 4-of-6 in the first half. 

ETSU’s defense held the Saints to 65 yards of total offense on 21 plays (49 rushing yards/16 passing yards) … On the flip side, the Bucs’ offense generated 264 yards on 35 plays in the first half (180 yards passing/84 rushing yards). 

Fifteen of the Bucs’ 20 first downs came in the first half … Limestone was held to three first downs in the first 30 minutes, while the Saints totaled eight in the second half. 

Following Hunter’s interception, the Bucs have now forced at least one turnover in six straight games, while accomplishing the feat in 16 of their last 19 contests. 

JJ Jerman has made nine of his last 11 field goal attempts, while his previous career long was a 46-yard make, which came in the 2015 season opener against Kennesaw State (Sept. 3) … Jerman has now made 21 career field goals placing him fifth all-time in program history … The preseason all-SoCon kicker is 44-for-45 in career PATs, making Jerman three shy of passing Ron Harrold (1968-70) for seventh all-time. 

For more information on Buccaneer football, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the football link.