JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Oct. 28, 2017) – For the second time at home this season, the ETSU football team had the ball with a chance to win on the final possession against a nationally-ranked opponent. But once again, that opportunity literally came up just short.
Trailing by a touchdown, the Buccaneers faced a fourth down play and needed one yard at the Wofford 23-yard line with 45 seconds left in regulation, but junior tailback Jajuan Stinson (Knoxville) lost his footing on a run that looked destined for a first down and came up shy of the line to gain. With that play, the No. 8-ranked Terriers escaped William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium with a 31-24 win in Southern Conference play on a soggy Saturday afternoon.
With the win, Wofford remains atop the SoCon standings with an overall 7-1 record and 5-1 mark in league play. Meanwhile, ETSU dropped to 3-5, 1-4. After Saturday’s loss, four of ETSU’s five defeats have come to teams ranked in the Top 25, including No. 1 James Madison, No. 13 The Citadel, No. 21 Western Carolina and No. 8 Wofford.
An announced crowd of 7,087 looked on as the Bucs put together a valiant effort in a game that featured three ties. In fact, ETSU fell behind by a score a 31-17 early in the fourth quarter before putting together its late rally. The game was another example of the Bucs’ continued improvement in year three of the program reboot, as the Bucs suffered a 31-0 loss to these same Terriers a year ago.
For the game, Wofford outgained the Bucs 302-15 on the ground, but ETSU held a 262-100 advantage through the air. The Terriers did not commit a turnover, while the Bucs lost a fumble in a critical moment in the game, a play that ultimately set up Wofford at the ETSU 6-yard line and resulted in an easy score.
Defensively, sophomore lineman Nasir Player (Columbia, S.C.) collected a career high 13 tackles, while junior linebacker Dylan Weigel (Pickerington, N.C.) made 12 stops and became only the 11th player in school history to reach 300 stops for his career.
Offensively, junior quarterback Austin Herink (Cleveland) was 23-of-34 through the air for 262 yards and a pair of touchdown passes, while senior wide out Vincent Lowe (Chesapeake, Va.) had a game high six receptions for 65 yards and fellow wide receiver Drake Powell (Clinton) had five catches and a score. Hunter Wike (Canton, N.C.) accounted for the other score as he hauled in a 27-yard touchdown reception on a third down play in the second quarter.
HOW THEY SCORED
- Wofford 3, ETSU 0: After forcing a punt on Wofford’s first drive of the game, the Bucs’ defense bent but did not break on the second Terrier offensive possession. Despite moving the ball to the ETSU 5-yard line, the Terriers were stopped on third down and settled for a 23-yard field goal by kicker Luke Carter. The 14-play, 66-yard drive took 6:52 off the clock and Wofford led by three with 2:13 left in the first quarter.
- ETSU 3, Wofford 3: The Bucs matched the Terriers with a field goal early in the second quarter thanks to a career-long kick of 51 yards from junior JJ Jerman (Seymour). Jerman’s kick was the second longest in school history. The score was set up thanks to a 33-yard kickoff return from Quan Harrison (Greeneville, Tenn.) and the drive covered 30 yards in nine plays. With 12:34 left in the first half, the game was tied.
- Wofford 10, ETSU 3: Known for its strong running attack, the Terriers flipped the script with three play-action passes on its next drive that resulted in huge chunks of yardage. In all, the Terriers would cover 75 yards on just four plays, and ultimately scored on a nine-yard pass from quarterback Brandon Goodson to halfback Lennox McAfee. With 10:50 left in the half, Wofford regained the lead at 10-3.
- ETSU 10, Wofford 10: The Bucs quickly answered the Terriers’ score with a touchdown of its own. Mixing its running game and passing attack, ETSU moved 70 yards over seven plays as Herink found Wike for a 27-yard scoring strike with 4:14 left in the half.
- Wofford 17, ETSU 10: A big play doomed the Bucs late in the second quarter, as Wofford’s halfback Lennox McAfee broke a pair of ETSU tackles and rumbled 48 yards for a touchdown. The Terriers’ five play scoring drive covered 65 yards in just over two minutes and capped the first half scoring.
- ETSU 17, Wofford 17: Having struggled during third quarter play so far this season, the Bucs overcame those issues against the Terriers. After trading possessions, ETSU took its second offensive drive of the second half and again used a balanced offensive attack to move 58 yard in six plays to score a game-tying touchdown. The key plays of the drive included a 25-yard pass from Herink to junior tight end Evan Wick (Hallettsville, Texas) and a hard-fought, one-yard scoring run from junior running back Matt Thompson (Morristown). With 7:28 left in the third quarter, the game was tied for the third time.
- Wofford 24, ETSU 17: After stopping another Wofford drive and with a chance to take the lead, disaster struck for the Bucs. On a third down play at its own 30-yard line, Herink was hit from Wofford’s Datavious Wilson and fumbled the ball, which was then picked up by the Terriers’ Colton Clemons and returned to the 6-yard line. Two plays later, the Terriers took the lead on a three-yard run by Andre Stoddard with 3:52 left in the third quarter.
- Wofford 31, ETSU 17: A huge defensive breakdown cost the Bucs early in the final quarter. With Wofford facing a third-and-14 and ETSU close to getting the ball back, the Terriers’ Blake Morgan took a basic pitch to the left and raced through the ETSU defense for a 47-yard scoring run. With the extra point, the Terriers lead stood at two touchdowns with 11:42 left in the game.
- Wofford 31, ETSU 24: Despite facing a large deficit, ETSU did not go away. On the Bucs next possession, Herink went 6-of-8 through the air to power a 12-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by a six-yard scoring strike to Powell. The drive took 5:20 off the clock, but with 6:16 left in the game the Bucs were within one possession.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Jerman continues to put his name in the ETSU record books. On Saturday, his extra point in the first half moved him into third on the all-time list with 55 for his career. In addition, his 51-yard field goal also tied for the second longest in school history.
- Austin Herink also continued moving up the record books … Following his two-touchdown performance, Herink moved pas Randy Meredith for seventh all-time with 26 career touchdowns … Herink also became the sixth player in school history to record over 5,000 yards of total offense … Herink now has 5,075 yards of total offense, placing him sixth all-time.
- Nasir Player recorded the second double-digit tackle game of his career after totaling a career-high 13 hits … Player finished with two tackles for loss and one quarterback hurry
- Quan Harrison totaled a career-high 139 all-purpose yards (119 kickoff return/20 punt return)
- Freshman Tyree Robinson (Gainesville, Ga.) – who made his first collegiate start – recorded a career-high eight tackles
- Redshirt freshman Eddie Gajardo (Greeneville, Tenn.) made his first collegiate start at right tackle
- The time of possession was nearly even as ETSU held the ball for 29:24, while Wofford had it for 30:36
- ETSU went 9-of-18 on third down, which included a 6-of-11 mark in the second half
- Two of Marion Watson’s (Waxhaw, N.C.) landed inside the 20 with a long of 52
- The Bucs, who had forced a turnover in 11 straight games, had now gone back-to-back games without forcing a turnover.
NEXT GAME UP
The Bucs will return to Greene Stadium next Saturday, Nov. 4 for their home finale against VMI. Kick is set for 3 p.m.