JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Oct. 7, 2017) – Sacking Robert Morris quarterback Jimmy Walker eight times and forcing three turnovers by the Colonials, the ETSU football team’s defensive unit powered the Buccaneers’ effort Saturday afternoon and treated a sold out William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium to a 16-3 Homecoming win.
With the non-conference victory, the Bucs improved to 3-3 overall on the season and are now 2-1 in Homecoming games since the reinstitution of the program in 2015. Meanwhile, Robert Morris out of the Northeast Conference dropped to 2-2 on the season.
The Bucs also improved to an impressive 3-1 at home this season.
In a game where points were hard to come by, defensive end Nasir Player (Columbia, S.C.) posted a career high three sacks, while junior placekicker JJ Jerman (Seymour) matched his career best with three made field goals. Along with that duo, junior quarterback Austin Herink (Cleveland) teamed up with fellow junior Drake Powell (Clinton) to collect the only touchdown of the contest with a five-yard scoring pass in the second quarter.
An announced crowd of 8,540 looked on as the Bucs – who lost to Robert Morris back in 2015 – avenged that earlier defeat by simply shutting down the Colonials’ offense. In fact, heading into the fourth quarter, the Colonials had managed just 90 yards in total offense for the game. For the game, the Bucs would ultimately outgain Robert Morris 255 to 211.
Other Bucs who posted sacks on the night included defensive end Jason Maduafokwa (Seymour), defensive tackle Ferguierson Charles (Fort Myers, Fla.), and linebackers Austin Gatewood (Ooltewah), Blake Bockrath (Loveland, Ohio), and JD Griffin (Kodak). For the game, cornerback Jeremy Lewis (Lawrenceville, Ga.) led the way with a team-high 5.5 tackles. Griffin, Lewis and junior linebacker Dylan Weigel (Pickerington, Ohio) all had fumble recoveries as well.
HOW THEY SCORED:
- ETSU 3, Robert Morris 0: After Weigel forced a fumble by the Colonials’ Cole Blake, Lewis recovered the loose ball at the ETSU 46-yard line and set up the Bucs first scoring drive of the game. Taking nine plays to cover 41 yards, ETSU moved to the Robert Morris 7-yard line before the drive stalled. Jerman connected on a 30-yard field goal and the Bucs led 3-0 with 14 seconds left in the first quarter.
- ETSU 10, Robert Morris 0: Aided by another Robert Morris turnover on a fumbled punt at the Colonials 11-yard line, the Bucs took just three plays to cover those 11 yards and score a touchdown on the five-yard scoring strike from Herink to Powell. With 3:05 left in the first half, the Bucs lead grew to 10.
- ETSU 13, Robert Morris 0: Robert Morris continued to be in the giving mood on its first possession of the second half, as Austin Gatewood blitzed from the left side of the line, hitting Colonials quarterback Jimmy Walker from behind and forcing a fumble. Weigel picked up the loose ball and moved it to the Robert Morris 27-yard line. Seven plays later, the Bucs again had to settle for a field goal, as Jerman connected from 21 yards out and the Bucs lead grew to 13.
- ETSU 16, Robert Morris 0: The Bucs continued to have to rely on field goals to score points, as after a drive highlighted by a 17-yard pass to Kobe Kelley (Knoxville) and a 31-yard strike to Anthony Spagnoletti (Bealeton, Va.), ETSU again could not break into the end zone. The Bucs did not come away empty handed, as Jerman’s kick was good from 18 yards away.
- ETSU 16, Robert Morris 3: It took until the 10:48 mark of the fourth quarter, but the Robert Morris offense finally broke through on the scoreboard. Using eight plays to go 60 yards, the Colonials moved deep into ETSU territory, but penalties cost them a shot at a touchdown. A 32-yard field goal by Nick Bisceglia was good and the ETSU lead was cut to 13.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- The Bucs have now forced a turnover in each of its six games this season. In fact, the Bucs have a stretch of 11 straight games forcing a turnover dating back to last season.
- ETSU’s eight sacks and three forced turnovers were both single-game highs since the reinstating of football in 2015 … The Bucs entered the day with just three sacks on the season, while turning in 12 tackles for loss after recording zero last week at Furman.
- To go with their 12 tackles for loss (negative-66 yards), the Buccaneer defense also tallied 11 quarterback hurries … JD Griffin and Blake Bockrath each finished with two.
- Nasir Player’s three sacks are the fourth-most in single-game history and most by a Buccaneer since Justin Reinier and Lamar Beam both posted four against Elon in 2012.
- The Buccaneer defense held the opposition without a touchdown for the second time since restarting the program (Warner, 2015), while it marks the fewest points allowed since shutting out Concord 44-0 on Sept. 4, 2003.
- The defense held Robert Morris to 2-of-12 on third down (0-of-2 on fourth down), while limiting the Colonials to 28 rushing yards on 29 attempts.
- ETSU scored 13 points off the three Robert Morris turnovers … After the three turnovers, the Bucs are now plus-5 in turnover margin on the season.
- Kobe Kelley tied a career high with five receptions, while his 93 receiving yards marked a career best.
- Landon Kunak’s (Spartanburg, S.C.) last 10 kickoffs have gone for touchbacks after going 5-for-5 again on Saturday.
- Falon Lee (Macclenny, Fla.) totaled 63 all-purpose yards (42 rushing yards, 21 receiving yards).
- Following his one extra-point on Saturday, JJ Jerman moved into a tie for fourth all-time with Phil Hunter with 53 PATs.
NEXT GAME UP
The Bucs will return to Southern Conference play next week, hitting the road to face No. 22 Western Carolina in Cullowhee, N.C., at 3:30 p.m.