JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Oct. 6, 2018)– It may have been Homecoming, but the ETSU football team’s dominating 45-0 rout of Gardner-Webb Saturday afternoon inside William B. Greene Stadium would be more accurately described as historic.
With freshmen running backs Quay Holmes (Powder Springs, Ga.) and Jacob Saylors (Jasper) both eclipsing 100 yards rushing and combining to score five touchdowns, and the team’s defense collecting its first shutout since a 44-0 win over Concord back on Sept. 4, 2003, the Buccaneers improved to 5-1 overall on the season and have won four straight contests for the first time since the 1999 season.
The Bucs, who entered the game just outside of the nation’s Top 25 in a pair of Football Championship Subdivision polls, did not miss on an opportunity to continue to impress the voters. Racking up 461 yards in total offense, ETSU’s much-improved rushing attack accounted for 217 of those gains, with Holmes finishing with 105 and Saylors with 101 yards on the night. Meanwhile, the defense held the Running Bulldogs to 221 yards – the lowest total for an opponent this season – and forced three turnovers on the night.
Adding more history to the game, the Bucs set the Greene Stadium record for points in a contest, and did so in front of a sellout crowd of 8,501 fans. It marked the seventh sellout in 10 games since opening the venue last season. The Bucs are also now 8-2 in those contests.
While Holmes had three scoring runs and Saylors added a pair, the Bucs also got a touchdown jaunt from senior running back Matt Thompson (Morristown) and a 28-yard field goal from senior kicker JJ Jerman (Seymour) to account for the team’s scoring. Meanwhile, quarterback Austin Herink (Cleveland) had an efficient outing, connecting on 17-of-24 pass attempts for 184 yards.
Defensively, senior linebacker Dylan Weigel(Pickerington, Ohio) and junior defensive back Jeremy Lewis (Lawrenceville, Ga.) both collected a team high seven tackles, while senior linebacker Jared Folks (Harrisburg, Pa.) added six stops, two sacks and two tackles for loss. Weigel also had a sack and three tackles for loss on the night.
In addition to those defensive highlights, the Bucs also grabbed three turnovers in the second half, which included the first career interceptions for sophomore defensive backs Tyree Robinson (Gainesville, Ga.) and Titus Tucker (Lenoir, N.C.), and a fumble recovery by fellow defensive back Karon Delince (Phenix City, Ala.).
HOW THEY SCORED:
- ETSU 7, Gardner-Webb 0:The Bucs wasted little time taking the early advantage. After being backed up following a penalty on the opening kickoff, ETSU began the first offensive possession of the game at their own 16-yard line and went to work methodically moving the ball down the field. In nine plays, the team covered 84 yards to score on a two-yard run by Holmes with 10:34 left in the first quarter. It was the first time this season the Bucs have scored points on their opening drive of the game.
- ETSU 10, Gardner-Webb 0: In terms of plays, the Bucs opened the second quarter by putting together their longest drive of the season, using a time-consuming 16 plays to once again cover 62 yards and scored on a 28-yard field goal by Jerman. With 12:52 left before the half, the Bucs led by 10.
- ETSU 17, Gardner-Webb 0: After the Bucs’ defense held G-W on a fourth-down conversion attempt at the ETSU 31-yard line, the offense took advantage of a pass interference call on the Runnin’ Bulldogs and got 26 yards rushing from Holmes to drive for another score. In five plays, the Bucs covered 65 yards and Holmes found the end zone on an 11-yard run to make it 17-0 with 4:33 before the intermission.
- ETSU 24, Gardner-Webb 0: The Runnin’ Bulldogs replaced their starting quarterback with backup Jaylen Myers and the Bucs quickly took advantage of that change. Linebacker Zack Yancey(Opelika, Ala.) forced Myers to fumble during a scramble and Delince collected the loose ball to give the Bucs possession at the G-W 37-yard line. One play later, Saylors sprinted 37 yards for his first career touchdown and ETSU led 24-0 with 6:54 left in the third quarter.
- ETSU 31, Gardner-Webb 0: Once again, ETSU’s defense forced another three-and-out and provided quality field position for the offense at the Bucs’ 38-yard line. A 39-yard pass from Herink to wide receiver Keith Coffee (Miami, Fla.) was the big play of the drive and Holmes found the end zone for the third time in the game with a 10-yard scoring run. The extra point was good and with 3:22 left in the quarter the Bucs led 31-0.
- ETSU 38, Gardner-Webb 0: The Bucs tacked on another score late in the contest, going 73 yards in 10 plays to score on a five-yard run by Thompson. With 6:31 left, the Bucs were in complete command.
- ETSU 45, Gardner-Webb 0: Following the interception by Tucker and a return to the 3-yard line, the Bucs took three plays to find the end zone again on a one-yard run by Saylors and wrap up the day’s scoring.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- With his three rushing TDs on Saturday, Holmes now has eight such scores on the season. Remarkably, the Bucs had a total of eight rushing scores as a team in 2017
- Quay Holmes and Jacob Saylors became the first Buccaneer players to rush for over 100 yards in a game since Sept. 16, 2000 when Todd Wells rushed for 108 and Corey Carter totaled 107 yards in a 38-3 win over VMI
- The series between the Bucs and Bulldogs now stands at 2-2, with the Bucs leading 2-0 in Johnson City. The Bucs win on Saturday snapped a two-game winning streak for the Running Bulldogs
- The 45 points scored were the most by a Buccaneer team since planting 68 on Chattanooga on Nov. 15, 2003
- Following his nine-tackle performance on Saturday night, Weigel moved his career total to 371 tackles, which leads all active FCS players. Weigel ranks fourth all-time in program history in total tackles and needs 82 total tackles to break Mario Hankerson record of 452, which was set from 1994-97
- Quay Holmes became first Buccaneer running back to rush for three touchdowns since Gaven Varner accomplished the feat back on Sept. 21, 2003 vs. VMI
- The Bucs have forced turnovers in 15 of their last 21 games and 25 of last 34 contests … ETSU has registered 12 games with at least two turnovers since restarting the program in 2015 – ETSU is 9-3 in those contests ... Saturday marked the first time this season the offense did not turn the ball over.
- Since the program returned in 2015, when the Bucs have a player rushing for over 100 yards, the Blue and Gold are 7-1 in those contests
- Overall, Holmes totaled 159 all-purpose yards (105 rushing, 28 receiving and 26 kickoff return), while Saylors added 131 all-purpose yards (101 rushing and 30 receiving)
- Ten different Buccaneer players accounted for 21 receptions
- The Buccaneer offensive line only allowed one sack, while Holmes and Saylors were only tackled behind the line of scrimmage once each
- The Bucs – who converted on three of their first four third down opportunities of the game – finished 9-for-14 on the night … Gardner-Webb was held to 5-of-14 and 0-of-2 on fourth down
- The Blue and Gold scored on all six of their trips inside the red zone (five touchdowns, one field goal)
- ETSU’s defense recorded its second straight game with five sacks, while the Bucs have totaled 20 sacks during this four-game win streak … ETSU – who also entered the game leading all FCS teams in tackles for loss – added 11 on Saturday
- Zack Yancey made his first collegiate start in the 45-0 win
- In the end, Gardner-Webb was held to 3.7 yards per play as the Runnin’ Bulldogs finished with 221 yards of total offense (60 total plays)
- The Bucs scored on seven of their 11 possession on the night, while Gardner-Webb was held to four three-and-outs
- With his six extra points on Saturday night, Jerman moved his career total to 79, which ranks second in program history. In addition, Jerman’s second quarter field goal moved his program-best total to 41
NEXT GAME UP
The Bucs will now head on the road for two Southern Conference matchups over the next two weeks, beginning with a 2 p.m. showdown at The Citadel in Charleston, S.C., on Saturday, Sept. 13. The team will then head to Wofford for a 1:30 p.m. matchup with the Terriers on Sept. 20.
For more on ETSU football throughout the 2018 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the football link.