KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (Sept. 8, 2018)– Down by just 10 points with 12 minutes left in the second quarter, the ETSU football team had held its ground against Southeastern Conference foe Tennessee Saturday afternoon inside storied Neyland Stadium. Then the storm clouds came.
Following a 48-minute weather delay for lightning, Tennessee – aided by ETSU turnovers and defensive lapses in the secondary – scored four touchdowns in a span of only nine minutes of game play to build a 38-0 lead by halftime. The Volunteers went on to hand the Buccaneers their first loss of the season, 59-3, before an announced crowd of 96,464 fans.
In a battle of the Football Championship Subdivision Buccaneers and the Football Bowl Subdivision Vols, Tennessee improved to 1-1 on the year. Meanwhile, ETSU dropped to 1-1 as it prepares to open Southern Conference play next weekend at VMI.
While the Bucs had dreams of collecting their first win over a Power 5 Conference opponent since defeating N.C. State, 29-14, back in 1987, it was not meant to be as the Vols capitalized on great field position throughout the night. Tennessee’s average starting field position was their own 38-yard line, compared to the Bucs’ average of their own 24.
ETSU’s defensive effort was a bright spot when not behind the sticks due to turnovers or special team’s breakdowns. In fact, the Bucs made a goal line stand on Tennessee’s first drive and also held the Vols’ offense to a respectable 414 yards in total offense when considering the score of the game. Redshirt senior linebacker Jared Folks (Harrisburg, Penn.) led the Bucs with seven tackles, while fellow redshirt senior linebacker Dylan Weigel(Pickerington, Ohio) added six stops on the night.
HOW THEY SCORED:
- Tennessee 3, ETSU 0: On their first drive of the game, Vols’ quarterback Jarrett Guarantano connected on a 51-yard bomb to wide out Josh Palmer that put the ball at the ETSU 4-yard line. Despite that big yardage play, the Bucs’ defense stiffened and forced Tennessee to settle for a 26-yard field goal by Brent Cimaglia with 9:32 left on the clock.
- Tennessee 10, ETSU 0: While the Bucs’ defense continued to play well, a mistake on special teams cost ETSU badly. A punt attempt by Marion Watson(Waxhaw, N.C.)at the Bucs’ 8-yard line was blocked by Marquill Osborne, who then picked up the ball himself and rumbled in for a touchdown. With 1:30 left in the quarter, the Bucs trailed 10-0.
- Tennessee 17, ETSU 0: Following a 48-minute weather delay, the Vols went to the air again for a big play, as Guarantano found wide receiver Marquez Callaway for a 51-yard gainer to the ETSU 1-yard line. Two plays later, running back Jeremy Banks powered his way in for a touchdown and Tennessee lead 17-0 with 9:27 left before the halftime break.
- Tennessee 24, ETSU 0: On their first play from scrimmage after the Vols’ score, Logan Marchi (Winsted, Conn.) attempted a pass that was deflected and then intercepted by UT defensive back Bryce Thompson, who returned the ball to the Bucs’ 3-yard line. One play later Banks rushed in for another score and the Bucs trailed 24-0 with 9:12 on the clock.
- Tennessee 31, ETSU 0: The nightmarish stretch continued for the Bucs on their next possession, as three plays into the drive, a Marchi pass attempt was intercepted by Vols’ linebacker Darrin Kirkland, Jr., who then returned the ball for a 33-yard touchdown. The extra point was good and ETSU now trailed 31-0.
- Tennessee 38, ETSU 0: After the Bucs gave the Vols a short field and easy scores on back-to-back possessions, Tennessee actually needed seven plays on its next drive to find the end zone. The decisive play was a 20-yard scoring run by wide receiver Palmer on a reverse, making it 38-0 to wrap up the first half.
- Tennessee 45, ETSU 0: Tennessee opened the second half with a sustained drive that took four minutes off the clock and covered 75 yards in 10 plays. The Bucs had appeared to recover a fumble to stop the drive, but after ETSU actually ran an offensive play, the officiating crew signaled that there was a replay review and the call was reversed. Four plays later, Madre London scored on a run from three yards out and made it 45-0 in favor of the Vols with 10:58 left in the quarter.
- Tennessee 45, ETSU 3:The Bucs continued to battle despite the large deficit, putting together an 11-play, 54-yard drive that included a pair of third down conversions and ended with a 39-yard field goal by junior placekicker JJ Jerman(Seymour).With 6:01 left in the third quarter, the Bucs were on the scoreboard.
- Tennessee 52, ETSU 3: Despite the large advantage, the Vols surprisingly kept throwing the ball on their first possession of the fourth quarter. The result was a three-play drive that ended with a 50-yard scoring pass from Keller Chryst to Jordan Murphy with 13:34 left in the game.
- Tennessee 59, ETSU 3:After the Bucs fumbled a punt at their own 20-yard line, the Volunteers tacked on a final score in six plays, as London scampered in from four yards out to wrap up the scoring.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Saturday’s game marked the first football matchup between the Bucs and Vols in the history of the two programs. ETSU will also meet opponents out of the SEC the next two seasons, taking on Vanderbilt in 2019 and Georgia in 2020 ... The Bucs will also play Appalachian State in 2019 and 2024, while taking on North Carolina in 2022.
- Weigel now has 341 career tackles and is 112 shy of school record of 452 set by Mario Hankerson from 1994-97.
- Following his 39-yard field goal, JJ Jerman moved into a tie for third all-time in ETSU history … Jerman, who pulled into a tie with Herbie Campbell, has 35 career field goals, which is two shy of tying the program record.
- Freshman running back Jacob Saylors (Jasper, Tenn.) averaged 5.1 yards per carry on the night … Saylors finished with 41 yards on eight carries.
- Redshirt junior defensive lineman Jason Maduafokwa’s (Seymour, Tenn.) recorded the Bucs’ lone sack on the night, while his two tackles went for losses.
NEXT GAME UP
The Bucs will hit the road again next weekend, opening their Southern Conference schedule at VMI. Kickoff in Lexington, Va., is set for 1:30 p.m. next Saturday, Sept. 15.