LEXINGTON, Va. (Oct. 8, 2016) – The ETSU football team’s recent offensive struggles continued and untimely penalties also cost the Buccaneers Saturday afternoon at VMI, as the Keydets raced to an early first-half lead and ultimately won 37-7 at Foster Stadium.
With the loss, the Bucs have now dropped three straight SoCon games and stand at 2-3 overall, 1-3 in in league action. Meanwhile, VMI improved to 3-2, 1-1.
For the season, ETSU had averaged just over six penalties a game for a total of 66.5 yards a contest. However, in the first half alone the Bucs committed nine penalties for 84 yards. The Keydets took advantage of those miscues, as quarterback Al Cobb threw for touchdown passes of 54, 45 and 9 yards in the first half and VMI took a 27-0 lead into the halftime locker room.
Cobb finished the game 14-of-20 through the air for 212 yards and rushed for another 24. The Keydets also combined to rush for 233 yards as a team, outgaining the Bucs 458 to 262 in total offense.
ETSU has now scored just 14 points in its last 12 quarters of play since netting a combined 54 points in winning back-to-back games to open the season.
HOW THEY SCORED
- VMI 7, ETSU 0: On its second possession of the game, Cobb found wide receiver Dan Forlines for a 32-yard pass play that set VMI up at the ETSU 31-yard line. From there, tailback Alex Keys took the ball on the next five plays and covered the remaining yardage himself, finishing off the drive with a 1-yard scoring run. The seven-play, 72-yard drive took 3:13 off the clock and following the extra point, VMI led 7-0.
- VMI 14, ETSU 0: After the Bucs drove the ball into VMI territory and flipped the field position with a punt, VMI started its third possession of the game at its own 20-yard line. However, after picking up a pair of first downs and moving to midfield, Cobb again went to the air and this time found wide out Javeon Lara for a 54-yard scoring strike to put the Keydets up 14-0 at the end of the first quarter. The six play, 80-yard drive took just 2:15 off the clock.
- VMI 21, ETSU 0: VMI faced a fourth down play at midfield on its fifth possession of the game and was appearing to try and pull the Bucs offside with a hard count. The move worked as ETSU jumped across the line, giving the Keydets a new set of downs. On the next play from scrimmage, Cobb went deep once again and found Aaron Sanders for another 45-yard scoring strike. The extra point was good and VMI led 21-0. The scoring drive took seven plays to go 80 yards in just over three minutes.
- VMI 27, ETSU 0: Penalties were the nemesis for the Bucs throughout the first half, and on the Keydets final drive of the half an ETSU roughing the passer penalty and an offside both helped VMI move into position for its fourth touchdown of the game. The seven-play, 55-yard drive ended with Cobb’s third touchdown pass of the game, a 9-yard toss to tight end Chad Jacob. The extra point was blocked and ETSU went to the halftime locker room down 27-0.
- VMI 30, ETSU 0: Once again unable to get the ball moving on offense in the second half, the Bucs watched VMI take its second possession after the break to the ETSU 33-yard line. At that point the Bucs defense stopped the Keydets, but not before placekicker Dillon Christopher connected on a 51-yard field goal to make it 30-0 with 9:29 left in the quarter.
- VMI 37, ETSU 0: The Keydets’ second-string offense tacked on a final score thanks to a 73-yard scoring run by tailback Tyain Smith with 4:31 left in the game.
- VMI 37, ETSU 7: Led down the field by backup quarterback Nick Sexton (Seymour), the Bucs broke though on the scoreboard on their final possession of the game, going 73 yards in 10 plays to score on a 3-yard pass from Sexton to Malik Styles (Dandridge). Styles and Sexton had also connected on a 38-yard pass earlier in the drive.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- ETSU sophomore linebacker Dylan Weigel (Pickerington, Ohio) recorded his 12th career game with double-digit tackles, finishing with 10 on Saturday … Sophomore linebackers Austin Gatewood (Ooltewah, Tenn.) and Trey Quillin (New Albany, Ohio) finished with nine and eight tackles, respectively … Weigel, Quillin, Gatewood, defensive back Paul Hunter (Denton, Texas) and defensive back Ryan Powers (Jupiter, Fla.) all registered a tackle for loss.
- The Bucs entered the game leading the all-time series with VMI 13-8 and having won seven straight over the Keydets dating back to a 38-0 win back in 1996. That streak ended as the Keydets improved to 7-5 all-time against the Bucs in Lexington, Va., and now trail the series 13-9.
- Midway through the third quarter, the Buccaneers’ defense showed some fight despite being down 30-0. The Keydets moved deep into ETSU territory and had the ball first down and goal at the Bucs’ 5-yard line. However, ETSU made a goal-line stand, stopping the Keydets on fourth down at the 1-yard line.
- ETSU defensive back Jeremy Lewis (Lawrenceville, Ga.) picked off a pass in the second half, which marks the fourth time in five games the Bucs have forced a turnover … The interception was Lewis’ first of his collegiate career.
- Freshman running back Dontavius Monroe (Delray Beach, Fla.) led the Bucs with 59 yards on 14 carries.
- Malik Styles’ touchdown reception marked the first of his collegiate career, while Nick Sexton has thrown touchdown passes in back-to-back games.
- Junior Vincent Lowe (Chesapeake, Va.) finished with team highs in receptions (4) and receiving yards (54) … Three of his four catches went for first downs.
- The Buccaneer defense did not record a sack, which snapped an eight-game streak of accomplishing the feat.
- ETSU kept its perfect streak of red zone scores intact as the Bucs are now 11-for-11 in scoring changes inside the 20-yard line (eight touchdowns, three field goals).
- Sophomore kicker JJ Jerman (Seymour, Tenn.) kept his perfect streak of PATs alive as he’s now 30-for-30 in his career … Jerman did miss a 47-yard field in the fourth quarter, marking his first miss of the season.
The Bucs will return home to face longtime SoCon rival Furman next Saturday, Oct. 15, at Kermit Tipton Stadium in Johnson City. Kickoff is set for noon.