November 03, 20181st2nd3rd4thFinal
ETSU0147021
Mercer735318
Scoring
1st Quarter
MERTD00:00Tyray Devezin 1 Yd Run (Cole Fisher kick)
2nd Quarter
ETSUTD10:18Quay Holmes 6 Yd Pass From Austin Herink (JJ Jerman kick)
MERFG05:18Cole Fisher 24 Yd
ETSUTD00:36Quay Holmes 1 Yd Run (JJ Jerman kick)
3rd Quarter
MERSAF11:24Travonte Easley
MERFG08:25Cole Fisher 41 Yd
ETSUTD02:14Quay Holmes 5 Yd Run (JJ Jerman kick)
4th Quarter
MERFG09:36Cole Fisher 24 Yd
Stats at a GlanceETSUMER
1st Downs1719
3rd Down Conversions8-137-13
4th Down Conversions0-10-0
Passing (Comp-Att)161 (19-25) 186 (15-31)
Rushing (Att)199 (37) 124 (33)
Total Yards360310
Penalties3-173-15
Turnovers12
Fumbles Lost10
Interceptions02
Possession31:3028:23
ETSU downs Mercer, 21-18; Bucs clinch share of SoCon title
ETSU downs Mercer, 21-18; Bucs clinch share of SoCon title
Saturday, November 3, 2018

Bucs to play for outright league championship Nov. 17 against Samford at Greene Stadium

MACON, Ga. (Nov. 3, 2018) -- ETSU’s historic season took another step forward.

The No. 22 ETSU football team clinched a share of the Southern Conference championship following its 21-18 win at Mercer on Saturday night in front of 10,002 fans at Five Star Stadium.

The Bucs, who have now won six conference games by a combined 16 points, improved to 8-2 overall, 6-1 in SoCon play. The eight wins this season mark the third-most victories in program history. The conference championship is the first SoCon title for the Blue and Gold, and ETSU will play for the outright crown and automatic bid to the FCS Playoffs on Saturday, Nov. 17 when they host Samford at 1 p.m. inside Greene Stadium.

The Bucs moved into sole possession of first-place in the SoCon standings thanks in part to Samford defeating No. 9 Wofford, 35-20. Both teams sit one-game back of the Bucs with Samford playing at The Citadel and Wofford traveling to Western Carolina next Saturday. ETSU will be on its bye week.

Redshirt junior defensive back Artevius Smith (Birmingham, Ala.) played a significant role in the Bucs’ victory as he came off the bench to record two key interceptions, marking the first two of his collegiate career. Smith, who replaced starting defensive back Titus Tucker (Lenoir, N.C.) after he was ejected from the game in the first half following a controversial penalty for targeting, gave the Bucs great field position following both takeaways. The Buccaneer offensive orchestrated scoring drives on both interceptions as redshirt freshman running back Quay Holmes (Powder Springs, Ga.) scored on touchdown runs to cap off the scoring drives.

            Overall, Holmes registered his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season as he totaled 114 yards and two rushing touchdowns, while also added four receptions for 17 yards and one score. Holmes moved his rushing touchdown total to 12 on the season and he has now accounted for 14 of ETSU’s 27 offensive scores on the year. Redshirt senior quarterback Austin Herink(Cleveland, Tenn.) finished 19-of-25 for 161 yards, one touchdown and one fumble. Following his six-yard touchdown pass to Holmes in the second quarter, Herink moved into a tie for sixth-place all-time in program history with 32. Of his 19 completions, 10 were hauled in by redshirt sophomore wide receiver Braxton Richburg (Hoschton, Ga.) as he finished with career highs in receptions and receiving yards (89). Richburg became the first Buccaneer wide receiver to finish with double-digit receptions since Cecil Moore totaled 12 in a win over Chattanooga on Nov. 11, 2000.

            Defensively, linebackers Dylan Weigel (Pickerington, Ohio) and Jared Folks (Harrisburg, Pa.)led the team with 10 tackles each, while junior defensive back Jeremy Lewis(Lawrenceville, Ga. )added seven tackles and three pass break ups. Weigel became the third ETSU player in school history to register over 400 career tackles as he moved his total to 406 en route to joining Mario Hankerson (452) and Shannon Depew (425) as the only players to accomplish the feat.

            As a unit, ETSU totaled 330 yards of total offense (179 rushing/161 passing), while Mercer was held 100 yards below its season average as they finished with 310 yards (186 passing/124 rushing). The Bears’ 18 points was their second-lowest total of the season (14 at Memphis) — 16 points below their season average.

            Mercer, whose Homecoming game was Saturday, moved to 4-5, overall, 3-3 in conference play.

HOW THEY SCORED:

 First Quarter

  • Mercer 7, ETSU 0: Despite having a third-string, redshirt-freshman quarterback behind center, the Bears scored on their second drive of the game as running back Tyray Devezin capped a 14-play 77-yard drive with a one yard scoring run. Cole Fisher’s extra point was good and the Bucs trailed by seven as the first quarter ended. On the drive, Mercer quarterback Harrison Frost was 5-for-7 through the air for 56 yards, and the Bears also got the benefit of a personal foul/targeting call that gave them a first down at the ETSU 1-yard line instead of a third-and-goal at the three. Titus Tucker was ejected from the game for the hit on Frost as the Mercer quarterback attempted to run for the end zone.

Second Quarter

  • ETSU 7, Mercer 7:The Bucs wasted little time answering the Bears’ touchdown, as ETSU went to the air to move the ball 77 yards in just nine plays. On the drive, Herink was 5-of-6 for 58 yards, which included a 34-yard reception to tight end Evan Wick (Hallettsville, Texas) and a spectacular one-handed touchdown catch of six yards from Holmes. JJ Jerman (Seymour) connected on the extra point and the game was tied with 10:18 left in the first half.
  • Mercer 10, ETSU 7: Though they regained the lead, the Bucs’ defense did keep the Bears out of the end zone despite Mercer moving the ball as deep as the ETSU 7-yard line. The Bears ran three straight pass plays from the seven, with Karon Delince (Phenix City, Ala.) and Jeremy Lewis coming up with key break ups in the end zone, limiting Mercer to the three points. The stand by the Bucs forced Mercer to settle for a 24-yard field goal from Fisher with 5:18 left before the intermission.
  • ETSU 14, Mercer 10: After a deflected pass from Frost turned into Smith’s first interception and gave ETSU the ball at the Mercer 38-yard line, the Bucs covered the remaining distance in eight plays and ultimately took their first lead of the game thanks to a one-yard run by Holmes. Jerman’s extra point was good and with 36 seconds left in the half the Bucs led by four.

Third Quarter

  • ETSU 14, Mercer 12: Mercer got back on the scoreboard in unlikely fashion at the start of the second half. After the Bucs had forced a three-and-out for the Bears’ offense and took over deep in their own territory, Herink was sacked by Mercer defensive end Bradley Earnest and he fumbled the ball, which bounced backwards into the end zone. ETSU offensive lineman Greg McCloud (Nashville) then made an important play, recovering the loose ball to take a safety instead of allowing the Bears to score a touchdown.
  • Mercer 15, ETSU 14: Herink’s fumble, the safety and ensuing free kick set Mercer up with a short field and a chance to take the lead. The Bears took advantage of the opportunity. Going 42 yards in six plays, Mercer capped their drive with a 41-yard field goal by Fisher. With 8:25 left in the third quarter, the Bears had regained the advantage.
  • ETSU 21, Mercer 15:Following a momentum-deflating fumble by ETSU freshman tailback Jacob Saylors (Jasper) as he seemed heading for a touchdown inside the Mercer 5-yard line, the ball kicked into the end zone and resulted in a touchback that gave Mercer the ball at their own 20-yard line. Instead of crumbling under the pressure of that turn of events, Smith collected his second interception of the day off Mercer’s Frost just four plays later. Returning the ball to the Bears’ 20-yard line, Smith set up the ETSU offense, which needed just four plays for Holmes to cap the drive with a five-yard scoring run. Jerman’s extra point was good, and the Bucs led by six with 2:14 left in the third quarter.

Fourth Quarter

  • ETSU 21, Mercer 18:The Bucs’ defense again took a bend-but-don’t-break approach, allowing Mercer a 16-play, 68-yard drive that took over seven minutes off the clock. However, despite getting the ball to the ETSU 4-yard line, ETSU stopped the drive and the Bears were forced to settle for a 24-yard field goal with 9:36 left in regulation. The key play on that drive was on 3rd-and-goal from the 4-yard line when Blake Bockrath (Loveland, Ohio)tackled Devezin for a loss of three, which forced the Bears to have to settle for the field goal.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

In a series that just dates back to 2015, the Bucs have won the last two meetings to even the series at 2-2 … Saturday marked ETSU’s first win over the Bears in Macon.

ETSU has forced at least one turnover in 18 of its last 25 games and in 28 of its last 38 contests ... The Bucs have registered 15 games with at least two turnovers since restarting the program in 2015 – ETSU is 11-4 in those contests

The Bucs’ eight wins and six SoCon wins are the most by a Buccaneer team since 1996 ... The eight wins are also the third-most in program history with the 1996 and 1969 teams finishing with 10 victories

Randy Sanders became the first ETSU head coach to win eight games in the first season at the helm, as he passed Paul Hamilton’s mark of seven wins which was set in 1997

Austin Herink has now registered nine comeback wins in his Buccaneer career

ETSU improved to 5-0 when winning the time of possession (31:30 to 28:30), while also moving to 6-0 in games decided by three points and 7-0 when holding the opposition to less than 30 points

The Bucs were 8-of-13 on third down and are now 15-of-28 on third down chances over the last two weeks

Following Quay Holmes’ 100-plus yard rushing game, ETSU improved to 9-1 when having a player rush for over 100 yards … Holmes’ 12 rushing touchdowns this season are the fourth-most by a Buccaneer as Brandon Walker had 13 in 1996 and 1999, while George Searcy holds the single-season record with 17 in 1989

Dylan Weigel now has 24 double-digit tackle games in his career and moved his career total to 406 — which leads all active FCS players

Jared Folks’ 10-tackle game was the second of his career and tied a career high

NEXT GAME UP

The Bucs will enjoy an off week next Saturday before returning home to Greene Stadium for the regular season finale against SoCon foe Samford at 1 p.m.

For more on ETSU football throughout the 2018 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the football link.