JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Sept. 22, 2018) – It will be remembered as one of the storybook games in the history of ETSU football.
Senior quarterback Austin Herink (Cleveland) came off the bench midway through the third quarter with the Buccaneers trailing rival Furman, 27-6, and quickly ignited an improbable comeback that saw ETSU score 23 unanswered points to shock the Paladins, 29-27, Saturday night inside William B. Greene Jr. Stadium. In a fitting moment for such a wacky game, the winning score came thanks to a defensive safety courtesy of senior linebacker Dylan Weigel (Pickerington, Ohio), who tackled Furman running back Darius Morehead in the Paladins’ end zone for the go-ahead score with just over two minutes left in the contest.
With the win, the Bucs moved to 3-1 overall and a perfect 2-0 in Southern Conference play as they prepare for a visit from rival Chattanooga next Saturday night at Greene Stadium. At 3-1, this is the best start for ETSU since the 1999 squad began the year at 4-0. Meanwhile, Furman dropped 0-3, 0-1 before a crowd of 8,453 fans.
In just a quarter and a half of play, Herink finished 9-of-14 on the night for 202 yards and a touchdown through the air. He also added 10 yards rushing. Redshirt freshman tailback Quay Holmes (Powder Springs, Ga.) rushed for 102 yards and two scores on the night, as the Bucs collected 104 yards on the ground, eclipsing the 100-yard mark for the fourth straight game. It’s the first time the Bucs have accomplished that feat since the 2003 season.
Defensively, senior lineman Tremond Ferrell (Washington, Ga.) had a game and career high 12 tackles, while Weigel finished with nine stops. Ferrell also added two sacks in the game. Weigel’s huge play on the safety was only made possible because Furman kick returner Dejuan Bell inexplicably did not make a fair catch signal on the kickoff following ETSU’s game-tying score. Instead, Bell simply took a knee and downed the ball at the Paladins’ 3-yard line. Two plays later, Weigel made his big stop and the Bucs led for the first and only time in the game.
The contest, which also included a 45-minute lightning delay during halftime, was still very much in doubt even after the Bucs took the lead. Following the safety, Furman kicked the ball to the Bucs and then held ETSU on three downs. The Bucs were forced to punt to Furman with 1:38 left on the clock, but again the defense rose to the occasion and ended the Paladins’ hopes.
HOW THEY SCORED:
- Furman 7, ETSU 0: After holding the Bucs’ offense in check on their first drive, the Paladins struck first on their opening possession of the game by covering 70 yards in nine plays and scoring on an eight-yard run by Kealand Dirks. The extra point was good and with 8:57 left in the first quarter, the Bucs trailed by seven.
- Furman 7, ETSU 3: The Bucs broke through offensively after a poor Furman punt set up the ETSU offense at the Paladins’ 45-yard line. A 31-yard pass from Logan Marchi (Winsted, Conn.) to tight end Evan Wick (Hallettsville, Texas) moved the ball deep into Furman territory, but the drive stalled and the Bucs settled for a 32-yard field goal by JJ Jerman (Seymour). With 2:48 left in the first quarter, the Bucs had pulled to within four.
- Furman 10, ETSU 3: Furman regained their full touchdown advantage early in the second quarter, as a 10-play, 66-yard drive led to a 26-yard field goal by Furman’s Grayson Atkins with 13:38 left in the first half.
- Furman 13, ETSU 3: The Bucs’ defense continued to bend but not break, holding the Paladins out of the end zone again and forcing another field goal from Atkins. This time the kick covered 30 yards and the Paladins were up 10 with 6:07 left before the break.
- Furman 13, ETSU 6: ETSU’s offense put together a solid drive and managed to flip the field late in the second quarter. After pinning the Paladins deep on a punt, the Bucs’ defense held Furman’s offense to three-and-out to give the offense the ball back with 1:56 left on the clock. Six plays later, Jerman connected again, this time from 35 yards out and the Bucs cut the lead to seven heading to the locker room.
- Furman 20, ETSU 6: After a 45-minute delay for lightning, the Paladins took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove 75 yards in just five plays to score their second touchdown of the night. The big play of the drive was a 50-yard pass from quarterback Harris Roberts to wide receiver Thomas Gordon, which helped set up Devin Wynn’s 10-yard scoring run. With 12:42 left in the third quarter, the Bucs trailed by 14.
- Furman 27, ETSU 6: Following an interception by Furman’s Patrick Wells on a Marchi pass, the Paladins took over at the ETSU 21-yard line and scored in just three plays on a 14-yard run by Darius Morehead. With 8:19 left in the third quarter, the Bucs faced their largest deficit of the game.
- Furman 27, ETSU 13: Herink entered the game in replacement of Marchi and immediately engineered the longest scoring drive of the season so far. Taking the Bucs 93 yards in nine plays, Herink passed for 70 yards on the drive and rushed for five more, as the drive ended with a two-yard scoring run by Holmes. With 4:01 left in the third quarter, the Bucs were back to within two scores.
- Furman 27, ETSU 20: On their first full drive of the fourth quarter, Herink hit wide receiver Anthony Spagnoletti (Bealeton, Va.) on a 52-yard pass and two plays later Holmes rumbled in from 12 yards out to score. With 8:27 left in the fourth quarter, the Bucs were within a touchdown.
- ETSU 27, Furman 27: Holding the Paladins to another three-and-out, the ETSU defense got the ball back in Herink’s hands, who led another 10-play, 65-yard drive highlighted by a fourth-down conversion pass to senior wide receiver Kobe Kelley (Knoxville, Tenn.). The drive ultimately ended with a one-yard pass from Herink to redshirt senior running back Matt Thompson (Morristown). After a Furman penalty on the extra-point attempt, the Bucs actually attempted a two-point conversion and got it as Herink powered to the end zone. However, a penalty on the Bucs pushed the ball back 10 yards and they ultimately kicked the extra point to tie the contest with 2:23 left in the game.
- ETSU 29, Furman 27: On the ensuing kickoff, Furman kick returner Dejuan Bell did not make a fair catch signal and amazingly downed the ball at the Paladins’ 3-yard line. Two plays later, the Bucs’ Weigel met Morehead in the end zone to tackle him for the game-winning safety.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- The Bucs 93-yard scoring drive in the third quarter was the team’s longest of the year, besting a nine-play, 90-yard drive against Mars Hill.
- With his first quarter field goal, Jerman connected on the 38th career make of his career and broke the school record of 37, which was previously set by Jerry Chapman from 1995-97. Jerman now has 39 field goals in his career. He also passed kicker Mike Shoun (1987-89) on the career scoring list, moving into 3rd place all-time.
- Following his nine-tackle performance on Saturday night, Weigel moved his career total to 355 tackles, which leads all active FCS players. Weigel now ranks fourth all-time in program history in total tackles and needs 98 total tackles to break Mario Hankerson record of 452, which was set from 1994-97.
- The series between the Bucs and Furman now stands at 25-8 in favor of the Paladins, with the Bucs trailing 10-6 in games played at Johnson City.
NEXT GAME UP
The Bucs will remain at home for the second game in their current three-game home stand when they host longtime rival Chattanooga at 7:30 p.m. next Saturday inside Greene Stadium.