Johnson City, Tenn. -- East Tennessee State senior kicker Con Chellis kicked a 41-yard field goal as time expired to give the Buccaneers a 23-21 victory over The Citadel Thursday night from Memorial Center.
The Bucs (2-3, 1-2 SoCon) took an early advantage as senior quarterback Matt Wilhjelm capped a eight play, 79-yard drive with a one-yard sneak with 7:34 remaining in the first quarter. The Bucs got off to a good start on the drive, as Wilhjelm hit junior wide receiver Charvin Clark with a 49-yard strike on the first play.
The Citadel (1-3, 0-2) answered back with a 10 play, 49-yard drive following a Buccaneer fumble. Bulldog running back Maurice Murphy scored on a three-yard run. The extra point failed as a bad snap was picked up and thrown into the end zone by holder Stan Hollingsworth. The pass was intercepted by ETSU linebacker Andrew Foerster.
Just before the half, ETSU widened their lead when wide receiver Cecil Moore hauled in a two-yard Wilhjelm pass in the corner of the end zone to make the score 13-6 with :11 remaining in the half. The Chellis extra point attempt was blocked.
The Citadel opened the second half with an inspired drive that ended with a Nate Mahoney 13-yard run with 11:07 remaining in the third quarter. The Citadel's drive covered 62 yards, all but 15 of those yards came on the ground. The only exception was a pass interference penalty that was assessed on the Bucs.
But the Bucs would come right back, as running back Corey Carter scored his first rushing touchdown of the season, powering in from one yard with 6:43 remaining in the third quarter. The drive began on the Bulldog's 9-yard line after Kareem Coffin recovered a William Hines fumble on an Aaron Bass 43-yard punt.
The Citadel cut the Buccaneer lead to 20-19 after another Murphy touchdown run. This one was from one-yard out with 12:09 left in the game. The Bulldogs would take the lead at 21-20 after a Mazzie Drummond pass to Nick Johnson for the two-point conversion.
After defensive stands by both teams, the Bucs got the ball back on their own 20 with 2:40 remaining in the game. Wilhjelm led the Bucs on an exciting drive that included a 19-yard pass to Moore on fourth and 13, a 25-yard pass to Carter on third and 13, and an 11-yard run by Wilhjelm on third and eight. After a timeout by East Tennessee State and two timeouts by The Citadel, Chellis lined up for the 41-yard attempt. He split the uprights as the final horn sounded.
Wilhjelm had a solid game under center for the Bucs, going 10-20 with 155 yards and one touchdown. Drummond led The Citadel through the air, completing four of seven passes for 69 yards.
The Bucs had their best rushing performance of the season, gaining 178 yards on the ground. Andrew Nuckolls led the Bucs with 69 yards on six carries. Carter gained 34 yards on seven carries and scored a touchdown on the evening. The Citadel's rushing attach was strong, with Murphy gaining 92 yards on 25 carries and reaching the end zone twice. Mahoney also had a good game, tallying 69 yards on 18 carries.
ETSU was led in receiving by Moore who pulled in four balls for 61 yards. Clark had 49 yards receiving and Carter has 46 yards on the evening. Bud Pough led The Citadel with 60 yards on two receptions.
Both defenses were stingy on the evening, as the Bucs had six tackles for a loss and the Bulldogs registered seven. Linebacker Mike Cornegay led ETSU in tackles for the second-straight game, finishing with 14 stops and a forced fumble. Defensive tackle Brandon Calton had a fine game with six tackles (three for a loss) and a sack. Lamar Sales had a great game for The Citadel with 12 tackles (two for a loss), a fumble recovery and a sack. Kevin Gause had six tackles, three pass breakups and a blocked field goal for the Bulldogs.
The Bucs have an open date next weekend and face Furman in their next game on Oct. 20 from Greenville, S.C. The Citadel also plays the Paladins in their next game, hosting Furman on Oct. 13 at 2 p.m. from Charleston, S.C.