November 24, 20181st2nd3rd4thFinal
Jacksonville State73101434
1st Quarter
ETSUFG08:15JJ Jerman 22 Yd
ETSUTD00:00Titus Tucker (JJ Jerman kick)
2nd Quarter
ETSUTD08:30Evan Wick 3 Yd Pass From Austin Herink (JJ Jerman kick)
ETSUFG00:00JJ Jerman 45 Yd
3rd Quarter
4th Quarter
ETSUTD05:30Austin Herink 10 Yd Run (JJ Jerman kick)
Stats at a GlanceETSUJSU
1st Downs2119
3rd Down Conversions3-145-12
4th Down Conversions2-30-0
Passing (Comp-Att)260 (17-39) 226 (20-32)
Rushing (Att)207 (36) 195 (27)
Total Yards467421
Fumbles Lost10
Bucs ready for Opportunity #12 Saturday at Jacksonville State
Bucs ready for Opportunity #12 Saturday at Jacksonville State
Friday, November 23, 2018

ETSU set to begin FCS Playoff run Saturday in Alabama

JACKSONVILLE, Ala. (Nov. 23, 2018) -- For the first time in 22 years, ETSU football team will make an appearance in the FCS Playoffs as the 21st-ranked Buccaneers are ready for Opportunity #12 when the Blue and Gold face No. 8 Jacksonville State on Saturday night. Kickoff for the playoff opener is set for 7:30 p.m. inside Burgess-Snow Field.



For the seventh straight week, ETSU (8-3) was ranked in both the Coaches and STATS FCS Top 25 Polls … The Bucs cracked both polls for the first time since the program returned in 2015 back on Oct. 8, marking the first time ETSU was last ranked since Oct. 30, 1999, when the Bucs were No. 18 … The Bucs were ranked No. 23 in the STATS FCS Poll and No. 24 in the Coaches Poll on Oct. 8 ... ETSU is now ranked No. 21 in the coaches poll and No. 22 in the media poll ... The Bucs are one of two teams in the SoCon who are ranked (No.  12/13 Wofford), while Chattanooga, Furman and Samford are all receiving votes.


This weekend marks the first appearance in the playoffs since the 1996 season when ETSU finished 10-3 … The 1996 season marked the Bucs’ first-ever playoff appearance, as ETSU defeated Villanova at home 35-29, before falling the next week to eventual national runner-up Montana, 44-14 … In the first round win over #11 Villanova, the eighth-ranked Buccaneers jumped out to a 28-6 lead at halftime, before seeing Villanova score 20 unanswered third-quarter points to pull within two … ETSU’s Greg Johnson hauled in a 22-yard touchdown reception to go ahead 35-26 with14:48 remaining in the fourth quarter … The Wildcats inched within a score on a 38-yard field with 8:21 remaining, but the Buccaneer defense held strong to secure the win … In that first half, the Blue and Gold held the ball for 21 minutes and out-gained Villanova, 329 to 68; however, in the second half, the Bucs totaled just 69 yards of offense, compared to 231 by the Wildcats … Brandon Walker rushed for 128 yards and one touchdown, while Greg Ryan threw for 237 yards and three touchdowns … Defensively, Mario Hankerson – ETSU all-time leading tackler – finished with 17 stops (13 solo) … The next week at No. 2 Montana, the Bucs battled snowy and ice conditions as the Grizzlies jumped out to a 31-7 first-half lead and went on to win, 44-14 … With the game tied at 7-7 late in the first quarter, Montana went on to score 30 consecutive points to secure the quarterfinal win … Montana eventually advanced to the championship but fell to Marshall, 49-29.


SoCon teams are 12-6 (.667) all-time against Ohio Valley Conference teams in the FCS Playoffs … Overall, the SoCon is 108-73 (.597) all-time in the FCS Playoffs, along with winning eight titles – the second-most among the eligible conferences …  The SoCon put multiple teams in the field for the fourth straight season and the 31st time in the last 37 seasons.


Following its 21-18 win at Mercer, along with Samford’s 35-20 victory over Wofford back on Nov. 3, ETSU secured a share of the Southern Conference championship, marking the Bucs’ first SoCon title in program history … This marks ETSU’s fourth conference title in program history as ETSU won the Ohio Valley Conference crown in 1969 and 1962, as well as the 1938 Smoky Mountain Conference championship.


The Buccaneers cleaned up the all-conference awards as running back Quay Holmes was named Freshman of the Year, Matt Pyke earned the Jacobs Blocking Award and Randy Sanders received the Wallace Wade Coach of the Year honor. Overall, the Bucs led the SoCon with 14 all-conference honors (12 players and Coach Sanders) from the coaches and 11 via the media. Joining Holmes and Pyke on the first team all-conference list were linebackers Dylan Weigel, Jared Folks, defensive lineman Nasir Player, and defensive backs Tyree Robinson and Jeremy Lewis. Senior defensive lineman Tremond Ferrell, senior kicker JJ Jerman and senior tight end Evan Wick were named second team all-conference, while Holmes, Jacob Saylors and Tre’mond Shorts landed spots on the all-freshmen team. Holmes also earned a spot on the media’s second team as a return specialist.


Coach Randy Sanders became the third coach in program history to earn Coach of the Year honors (John Robert Bell, 1969 and Mike Cavan, 1996), while Matt Pyke is the first player in program history to receive the Jacobs Blocking Award and Holmes became the fourth player in school history to receive Freshman of the Year honors (Derrick Hollins, 1990; Brandon Walker, 1996; Todd Wells, 1997).


ETSU’s six SoCon wins were by a combined 16 points – three at VMI (27-24), two vs. Furman (29-27), three vs. Chattanooga (17-14), three at The Citadel (26-23), two vs. Western Carolina (45-43, 3OT) and three at Mercer (21-18) …  ETSU has never won six games by three points or less in the 84-year history of the program, while they are the only FCS team to have accomplished the feat this season … The Bucs posted comebacks in five of the six games, including rallying from 21 down in the third quarter to defeat Furman and by 15 down in the final 6:40 against Western Carolina … Overall, the Blue and Gold scored 165 points (27.5 per game) and have given up 145 points (24.8) in these contests … Along with the points being nearly identical in these games, the Bucs are only being outgained by 1.5 yards in the six games – 348.5 to 347.0, while both teams scored 18 touchdowns during this stretch (ETSU outscoring opponents 38-21 in points off turnovers) … The Bucs’ defense generated 46 tackles for loss (-186 yards) and 18 sacks (-131 yards), while limiting the opposition to 20 first-quarter points … As a team, ETSU was 26-of-28 in red zone scoring, with 15 touchdowns coming in those trips, while opponents are 22-of-24, with 14 touchdowns coming in the red zone.


Despite being outscored 217-209 in the eight SoCon games this season, ETSU still managed to earn a share of the league title after finishing, 6-2 … The Bucs – who could’ve won the title outright with a win over Samford in the regular season finale back on Nov. 17 – finished tied atop the standings with Wofford (earned the AQ) and Furman … The Bucs were picked to finish eighth in the nine-team league and won their first SoCon title in program history … ETSU is one of two teams in the FCS Playoffs to have a negative point differential in conference play – the Bucs were minus-8 and Elon was minus-7 (178-171).


ETSU redshirt junior defensive lineman Nasir Player was named a finalist for the STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award, which was announced by the selection committee on Monday ... Player is one of 25 student-athletes named a finalist ... This season, Player has totaled 41 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, six sacks, 11 hurries and three forced fumbles … The Buchanan Award, presented since 1995, has watch list updates during the season. A national panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will select the winner following the regular season.


ETSU redshirt freshman running back Quay Holmes was named a finalist to the STATS FCS Jerry Rice Award Watch List, which was announced by the selection committee on Monday … Holmes has been a spark for the Buccaneer offense as he has totaled 820 rushing yards and 13 rush touchdowns in 11 games … Holmes has also added 32 receptions for 242 yards and two touchdown, along with accumulating 1,324 all-purpose yards.


Randy Sanders was named one of 15 finalists for the Eddie Robinson Award on Monday … In his first season at the helm of the Buccaneers, Sanders led the Blue and Gold to eight wins and a share of the SoCon Championship – the first in program history – along with their first FCS Playoff appearance since 1996. The eight wins are the third-most in program history and marks the most by a first-year ETSU head coach. Over the season, ETSU registered a five-game win streak from Sept. 14-Oct. 13, marking the longest since 1996, while the eight wins are the most by a Buccaneer team since that 1996 campaign. The Bucs, who are in their fourth year after bringing the program back in 2015, have been ranked as high as No. 17 in the AFCA FCS Coaches’ Poll. Sanders is one of 15 coaches to be named to the Eddie Robinson watch list.


Redshirt freshman running back Quay Holmes has been a touchdown-scoring machine as his 15 total touchdowns ranks seventh among FCS players and his 13 rushing scores ranks ninth … Holmes has accounted for 50 percent of the Bucs’ 30 offensive touchdowns this season as he ranks 21st among FCS players in scoring per game (8.2) … Holmes leads the team in scoring with 90 points and he’s looking to become the first offensive player to lead the Bucs in scoring for a season since the program returned in 2015 – kicker JJ Jerman has led the team in scoring from 2015-17 … Holmes’ 90 points rank second in single-season history, while he’s 18 points shy of tying George Searcy’s record, set in 1989 … Holmes’ 15 total touchdowns are tied for the second-most in program history, while he’s three shy of tying George Searcy’s record of 18, set in 1989.


Randy Sanders picked up his eighth victory of the season after the Bucs defeated Mercer on Nov. 3 in Macon … With that win, Sanders set the program record for victories by an ETSU head coach in his first season … The previous record of seven was set by Paul Hamilton in 1997.


Along with setting a new career field goal record, JJ Jerman broke the ETSU single-season field goal mark with his 17 makes … Jerman broke Herbie Campbell’s 1984 record of 15 with his season-long 47-yard field goal in the first quarter against Samford last weekend.


As a team, ETSU is among single-season top-10 leaders in several statistical categories this season, which includes field goals (1st, 17), kickoff return average (2nd, 24.4), rush defense (4th, 126.6), points per game (6th, 25.7), average yards per play (5th, 5.4), average rushing yards per attempt (7th, 4.3), completions (T7th, 194), pass attempts (8th, 340) and punt return average (T9, 9.2).


The Bucs’ six SoCon victories have been decided by 16 total points with ETSU’s largest margin of victory in those games being three points – vs. VMI, Chattanooga, Citadel and Mercer  … ETSU is 4-1 this season when scoring first (lost last week to Samford) … The Bucs are 6-0 in games decided by three points or less and 7-0 when hold opponents to less than 30 points … When ETSU outrushes the opposition, the Bucs are 5-1, while also going 5-0 when winning the time of possession and turnover battle … The Blue and Gold are 5-1 when leading after three quarters (lost last week to Samford), while also picking up three wins when trailing at halftime and trailing after three quarters – ETSU trailed at the half and after three quarters in wins vs. VMI, Furman and Western Carolina.


Since the start of the 2016 season, ETSU is 89-of-99 (90%) in red zone scoring ... The Bucs have scored 463 points during these 96 trips (54 TDs/32 FGs) … This year ETSU is 40-of-43 inside the red zone (93%), which ranks third among FCS teams.


ETSU’s defense ranks second among SoCon teams in rush defense as the Bucs are allowing 126.6 rushing yards through the first 11 games of the season … The Bucs, who held Mars Hill to 14 rushing yards in the season opener, limited VMI to negative-28 rushing yards in the 27-24 win on Sept. 14 in Lexington, Va. … The negative-28 rushing yards are the third-fewest allowed by an FCS team this season … Overall, ETSU ranks 23rd in the FCS in rushing defense. 


Jacksonville State went 8-3 in the regular season en route to capturing its fifth straight Ohio Valley Conference title … The Gamecocks are coming off a 60-52 five-overtime loss to No. 2 Kennesaw State last Saturday at Sun Trust Park

The Gamecocks are currently ranked No. 9 in the AFCA FCS Coaches’ Poll and No. 8 in the STATS FCS Poll

This marks the Gamecocks’ sixth straight FCS Playoff appearance, while it’s also the first time JSU is playing a first round playoff game since 2014 … The Gamecocks played in the 2015 FCS National Championship against North Dakota State

Jacksonville State is 39-5 at home since the 2002 season and the Gamecocks are averaging over 47 points per game at Burgess-Snow Field in 2018 … In its five home games this season, JSU is averaging over 18,000 fans

Overall, the Gamecocks are averaging 41.7 points per game and 506.1 yards of total offense per game (295.3 passing/210.8 rushing) … JSU has generated over 500 yards of total offense six times this season, including a season-high 654 yards against Mississippi Valley State … JSU is holding opponents to 21.9 points and 289.5 yards per game (177.4 passing/112.1 rushing) … The defense has also registered 91 tackles for loss and 24 sacks, while also holding opponents under 260 yards of total offense four times

JSU is outscoring its opponents 208 to 79 in the first half this season, while they have scored 33 more touchdowns than its opposition overall, 63-30

As a team, the Gamecocks lead all FCS in third down conversion percentage defense (25.0), third in first down offense (283), sixth in total offense (506.1), seventh in scoring offense (41.7), and eighth in total defense (289.5) and team tackles for loss (8.3)

Jacksonville State has turned the ball over 22 times this season (12 interceptions/10 fumbles), while its defense has totaled 17 takeaways (14 interceptions, three fumbles) … Three of the interceptions were returned for touchdowns

The Gamecocks are led by redshirt sophomore quarterback Zerrick Cooper as he has thrown for 2,825 yards and 27 touchdowns, while he has also rushed for 298 yards and five scores … Cooper was the backup quarterback for Clemson in 2017 where he played in seven games, totaling 256 yards and two touchdowns, while adding 10 carries for 18 yards … Redshirt freshman Zion Webb has also passed for 419 yards and five touchdowns, while adding 396 rushing yards and six scores on the ground

Cooper ranks fifth among FCS players in passing touchdowns (27), 10th in passing efficiency (151.4), 16th in total offense (283.9) and 21st completion percentage (62.2)

Sophomore running back Jaelen Greene is a transfer from Cincinnati and has totaled 586 rushing yards and four touchdowns in his first season with the Gamecocks, while redshirt junior Josh Pearson leads the team in receptions (59), receiving yards (980) and receiving touchdowns (17) … Pearson’s 17 touchdowns lead all FCS players and ranks fourth in scoring (9.6)

Junior safety Traco Williams leads the team with four interceptions, while redshirt freshman linebacker Zack Woodard has three picks

Redshirt junior linebacker Jalen Choice leads the team in tackles (73) and tackles for loss (10.5), while redshirt senior Connor Christian (Savannah State transfer) has totaled nine tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks

Head Coach John Grass is in his sixth season at Jacksonville State – five as the head coach, spent 2013 season as the Gamecocks’ OC


Saturday marks the third all-time meeting between the two programs and the first since 1960 … ETSU won that last meeting 20-14 in Johnson City, while Jacksonville State won the year prior, 13-0 in Alabama. 


Saturday’s game will also be broadcast on ESPN3 with Mike Watts and Tyoka Jackson on the call.


The Buccaneer Sports Network (BSN) will provide ETSU fans with complete pregame, in-game and postgame coverage on the Bucs’ flagship station WXSM-AM 640 and affiliate station 104.9 FM NASH ICON.     

The BSN begins its pregame programing one hour and 30 minutes prior to kickoff with the 30-minute long ETSU Football Tailgate Show, followed by the Randy Sanders Pregame Show Powered by Ford which will lead up to 30 minutes prior to kickoff. The Appalachian Orthopaedic Countdown to Kickoff will then lead into the final moments before kickoff.       

The broadcast team of “Voice of the Bucs” Jay Sandos, color analyst Robert Harper and studio hosts Mike Gallagher and Trey Adams will provide ETSU fans all the information they need to complement their game-day activities.      

At halftime, the crew will have the Zaxby’s Halftime Show, while fans can tune into the General Shale Post Game Show for a full wrap up, with game statistics, players and coach interviews, and other post-game information.     


Live Stats will be provided via the NCAA … Click here to access live stats


Playoff tickets can be purchased through the Jacksonville State ticket office via or by calling (256) 782-8499. Tickets purchased online prior to game day will be $15, while all tickets purchased in the ticket office or on game day will be $20.


The winner of Saturday’s game travels to Orono, Maine to take on seventh-seeded Maine Black Bears in the second round of the FCS Playoffs on Saturday, Dec. 1 … Kickoff is set for Noon at Alfond Stadium.

For complete information on ETSU Football, follow the program via social media on Twitter (@ETSUFootball), Instagram (@ETSUFootball), Snapchat (@ETSUFootball) and on Facebook (ETSU Buccaneer Football). 

For more information on Buccaneer football, visit and click on the football link.