JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Sept. 1, 2018) -- Overcoming three turnovers and its share of adversity throughout the night, the ETSU football team gave first-year head coach Randy Sanders a victory in his debut, as the Buccaneers scored 28 unanswered points Saturday night to drop Mars Hill 28-7 inside a sold out Williams B. Greene Jr. Stadium.
With the win, the Bucs will take a 1-0 record into its first-ever meeting with in-state Southeastern Conference foe Tennessee. Kickoff for that matchup with the Volunteers is set for 4 p.m. next Saturday and the game will air nationally on the SEC Network. Meanwhile, the Lions dropped to 0-1 on the young season.
For the Bucs, freshmen tailbacks Quay Holmes (Powder Springs, Ga.) and Jacob Saylors (Jasper) combined for 188 yards rushing and junior quarterback Logan Marchi (Winsted, Conn.) went 17-of-29 through the air for 273 yards and three passing touchdowns. ETSU outgained the Lions 511 to 263 on the night, as the Bucs defensive unit forced a fumble and sacked Mars Hill five times in the game. Senior linebacker Dylan Weigel (Pickerington, Ohio) and junior defensive back Jeremy Lewis (Lawrenceville, Ga.) led the Bucs with 10 tackles apiece.
The game got off to a slow start for the Bucs, who found themselves trailing 7-0 with just over a minute left in the first half. However, at that point the momentum in the contest turned as ETSU needed just four plays to cover 69 yards and score for the first time in the game. That positive energy carried over to the second half, where the Bucs outscored the Lions 21-0.
With the win, ETSU has collected victories in three of four openers since returning to the gridiron in 2015.
HOW THEY SCORED:
- Mars Hill 7, ETSU 0: After the Bucs missed a 44-yard field goal attempt on their first possession, Mars Hill took advantage of the good fortune by going 73 yards in 11 plays to score a touchdown on a 15-yard pass from quarterback Austin Brown to wide receiver Craig Rucker. With 5:57 left in the first quarter, the Lions led, 7-0.
- ETSU 7, Mars Hill 7: With 1:14 left in the half, the ETSU offense finally found the execution it had been missing for the previous 29 minutes of play. A drive-opening, 55-yard pass from Marchi to Quan Harrison (Greeneville) moved the ball to the Mars Hill 14-yard line, and three plays later, Marchi struck again, this time to senior wide receiver Kobe Kelley (Knoxville) for a 14-yard score. With 24 seconds left before the break, the game was tied 7-7.
- ETSU 14, Mars Hill 7: On the Bucs third possession of the second half,freshman tailback Jacob Saylors (Jasper) gave ETSU a spark with 42 yards on four carries and Marchi cashed in on that momentum with a 30-yard scoring strike to Harrison. The nine-play, 90-yard drive gave the Bucs their first lead of the game and a 14-7 advantage with 1:06 left in the quarter.
- ETSU 21, Mars Hill 7: After Mars Hill punter Michael Johnson dropped a snap and the ETSU defense buried him at the 10-yard line, the Bucs needed just one play for freshman tailback Quay Holmes (Powder Springs, Ga.) to collect his first career touchdown with a 10-yard scoring run. At the 14:02 mark of the fourth quarter, the Bucs led 21-7.
- ETSU 28, Mars Hill 7: Holding the Lions on a desperation fourth down at the ETSU 17-yard line, the Bucs wrapped up the night’s scoring with an 83-yard, 17-play drive that culminated with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Marchi to senior tight end Evan Wick (Hallettsville, Texas). With 4:03 left in the game, the Bucs led by 21.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- A sellout crowd of 8,518 fans packed William B. Greene Jr. Stadium on Saturday night, marking the fourth sellout in seven games since the new facility opened last season.
- The Bucs are now 8-2-1 all-time against Mars Hill, and ETSU improved to 41-40-3 all-time in season openers all-time. The Bucs also improved to 5-2 all-time in Greene Stadium.
- Weigel now has 335 career tackles and is 118 shy of school record of 452 set by Mario Hankerson from 1994-97 … Weigel moved into sole possession of seventh-place among Buccaneer career tackle leaders and is 13 shy of passing Marcus Huff (1989-92) for sixth … The Pickerington, Ohio native has now totaled 22 double-digit tackle games in his career.
- Jeremy Lewis’ 10 tackles marked a career-high for the junior defensive back.
- Sanders became the 10thETSU head coach to win his first game.
- The first half scoring pass between Marchi and Kelley marked firsts for both players. It was Marchi’s first touchdown pass in a Buccaneer uniform and the first touchdown catch in Kelley’s career at ETSU. Other firsts on the night included Holmes’ first scoring run, while Harrison and Wick collected their first ever scoring receptions.
- The Bucs’ 511 yards of total offense was the most since posting 574 in the win over Kentucky Wesleyan back on Nov. 21, 2015.
- Quay Holmes became the first ETSU running back to rush for over 100 yards since Jajuan Stinson (Knoxville, Tenn.) totaled 114 yards in a win over Cumberland on Nov. 12, 2016.
- Quan Harrison registered his first 100-yard receiving game and became the first ETSU player to finish with over 100 yards since Vincent Lowe (105 yards) and Hunter Wike (101 yards) did so last Sept. 30 at Furman … Harrison finished with five receptions for 112 yards and a touchdown.
- After allowing the Mars Hill touchdown, the Buccaneer defense posted stops on 11 straight possessions
- ETSU’s defense has now forced at least one turnover in 13 of its last 17 games and 23 of the last 30 contests.
- Nasir Player (Columbia, S.C.)totaled two of the Bucs’ five sacks, while adding four tackles and three quarterback hurries.
NEXT GAME UP
The Bucs will hit the road for back-to-back road games over the next two weeks, beginning with a trip to Knoxville to take on the University of Tennessee for the first time in program history. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. inside Neyland Stadium next Saturday.
For more information on Buccaneer football, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the football link.