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’ historic season comes to an end in playoff loss at Jacksonville State
Bucs’ historic season comes to an end in playoff loss at Jacksonville State
Sunday, November 25, 2018

JACKSONVILLE, Ala. (Nov. 24, 2018)– The ETSU football team saw its historic season come to an end in the first round of the FCS Playoffs, as the 21st-ranked Buccaneers suffered a 34-27 setback to No. 8 Jacksonville State on Saturday night at Burgess-Snow Field.

The Buccaneers, who were making just their second playoff appearance in program history, led 20-10 at halftime, but saw the Gamecocks score 24 of the final 31 points to finish off their comeback.

Like they did all season, the Blue and Gold fought until the very end but fell one inch short of a game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter. After seeing JSU cap off a stretch of scoring 24 unanswered points to go ahead, 34-20 with 7:34 remaining in the fourth quarter, ETSU responded with a two-minute scoring drive as a 10-yard touchdown run by redshirt senior quarterback Austin Herink (Cleveland, Tenn.) made it a one score game with five and a half minutes remaining. Following the Buccaneer defense recording their fifth three-and-out of the night, ETSU got the ball back on its own 46-yard line with 4:22 remaining. In just five plays, the Bucs marched down to the JSU four-yard line, thanks to Herink finding Southern Conference  Freshman of the Year Quay Holmes (Powder Springs, Ga.) for a 25-yard completion on a fourth down play. Unfortunately, on first-and-goal from inside the five, Holmes took an outside toss and had the ball jarred loose at the goal line, resulting in a touchback. The Bucs had one final drive as they got the ball on their own 17-yard line with 1:39 remaining; however, the drive stalled on their 44 and the Gamecocks were able to run the final minute and nine seconds off the clock.

The Buccaneers outgained one of the top offenses in the FCS as ETSU totaled 436 yards – the most given up by the Gamecocks this season. The Bucs threw for 260 yards and rushed for 176, while JSU ended with 421 yards (226 passing/195 rushing).

Herink finished 17-of-39 for 260 yards with one touchdown, while rushing for 17 yards and one score. Holmes and Saylors combined for 159 yards on the ground, while Braxton Richburg (Hoschton, Ga.), Evan Wick Hallettsville, Texas) and Kobe Kelley (Knoxville, Tenn.) each finished with three receptions.

Defensively, the Bucs forced two takeaways, including a 60-yard pick-six by sophomore defensive back Titus Tucker (Lenoir, N.C.) to end the first quarter. Fellow sophomore defensive back Tyree Robinson (Gainesville, Ga.) posted his SoCon-leading sixth interception of the season in the second quarter, which led to JJ Jerman’s (Seymour, Tenn.) 45-yard field goal to end the first half. Junior linebacker JD Griffin (Kodak, Tenn.) made his first collegiate start and totaled a career-high nine tackles, while Robinson added eight to go with his interception.

The Bucs ended their season with the third-most wins in program history as ETSU finished 8-4, while JSU, who advances to take on No. 7 national seed Maine next Saturday, moved to 9-3.



  • ETSU 3, Jacksonville State 0: The Bucs used 11 plays to go 77 yards on their opening drive and got on the board via a 22-yard field goal by Jerman.. ETSU converted one third down during the drive, while Richburg had a key 24-yard run on a trick play and Anthony Spagnoletti (Bealeton, Va.) hauled in a 16-yard pass that moved the ball into the JSU 12 yard line.
  • Jacksonville State 7, ETSU 3:After being held to a pair of three-and-outs to start the game, the Gamecocks were able to move the ball on their third series and scored the game’s first touchdown when Zerrick Cooper found Uriah West for a 37-yard score to cap a 6-play, 80-yard drive in just over two and a half minutes.
  • ETSU 10, Jacksonville State 7:The Bucs ended the quarter with a bang as Tucker picked off Cooper’s pass and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown. Following Jerman’s extra-point, ETSU led by three. The interception was the second of Tucker’s career, while it was also the second time a Buccaneer had a pick-six this season.


  • ETSU 10, Jacksonville State 10: Following Tucker’s pick-six, the Gamecocks used a six-play, 71-yard drive to tie the game at 10-10 following a 28-yard field goal by Cade Stinnett.
  • ETSU 17, Jacksonville State 10:The Bucs responded with a scoring drive of their own as Herink and Wick found a connection to go back ahead, 17-10. After crossing midfield, Herink found Wick for the final three passes of the drive, including a three-yard touchdown reception to cap a seven-play, 72-yard drive. Following the Jerman extra-point, the Blue and Gold led by seven with 8:30 remaining in the quarter.
  • ETSU 20, Jacksonville State 10: ETSU’s second defensive takeaway resulted in more points asRobinson’ssixth interception of the season led to a 45-yard field goal by Jerman to finish off a 14-play, 41-yard drive. ETSU ate up the final 5:28 of the half with the drive. With ETSU facing 3rd-and-20 from midfield, Herink looked for Richburg and JSU was called for pass interference to keep the drive alive. From there, Herink used his legs to pick up a first down on 3rd-and-7 – and despite getting sacked for a loss of 10 on 3rd-and-15 from the JSU 18, Jerman was able to convert on his 53rd career field goal to give ETSU a 10-point lead at the break.


  • ETSU 20, Jacksonville State 17: After ETSU went three-and-out on its first series of the second half, he Gamecocks went 71 yards on eight plays and scored on a five-yard touchdown pass from Cooper to Shaq Davidson. JSU’s Jaelen Greene helped set up the scoring play when he broke a 39-yard run on 3rd-and-3 to put the Gamecocks inside the Buccaneer 10-yard line. Two plays later, JSU scored and pulled within three at the 8:21 mark of the quarter.
  • ETSU 20, Jacksonville State 20: The Buccaneer defense came up with a huge stop inside the red zone as ETSU held JSU to a 27-yard field goal. On third-and-goal, senior defensive back Domenique Williams (Charlotte, N.C.) broke up a touchdown pass in the end zone to set up the game-tying field goal from Stinnett.


  • Jacksonville State 27, ETSU 20: The game saw a big momentum swing as the Buccaneers drove inside the red zone but could not come away with points as Jerman’s 24-yard field goal attempt was partially blocked. Following Jerman’s first miss in 14 attempts, JSU struck for a go-ahead touchdown when Cooper hit Davidson for a 13-yard score. The Gamecocks only needed five plays to cover 80 yards in just over two minutes.
  • Jacksonville State 34, ETSU 20: Back-to-back three and outs ensued following the Gamecocks taking the lead, as ETSU stuffed a run and forced two incomplete passes to gain possession at its own 17 yard line. Two plays into the drive, Jacksonville State’s Marlon Bridges jumped a route and intercepted the pass, returning it 32 yards for a touchdown to double the lead.
  • Jacksonville State 34, ETSU 27: The Bucs shook off the pick-six and got right back to work, showing life as they marched 75 yards on six plays and scored on Herink’s 10-yard run to make it a seven-point game with 5:30 remaining in the game. The drive started with a 40-yard strike to Ari Werts (Stone Mountain, Ga.), while the duo connected again on a 23-yard play on 4th-and-8 from the JSU 33.


ETSU’s 436 yards of total offense was the most put up against Jacksonville State’s defense this season.

Saturday marked the Bucs’ first playoff game in 22 years and just the second in program history – first came in 1996 … It was also just the third-ever meeting between the two programs and first since 1960.

The Bucs’ eight wins this season are the third-most in program history, with the most wins coming in 1969 and 1996 when those ETSU teams finished with 10 victories … The eight wins were also the most by a first-year head coach as Randy Sanderscompleted year one in Johnson City at, 8-4.  

ETSU was one of two teams to represent the SoCon in the FCS Playoffs this season, while the Bucs won their first-ever SoCon title after going 6-2 in league play.

Titus Tucker recorded the Bucs’ second pick-six of the season (Tyree Robinson at The Citadel) and the third since the program restarted in 2015.

ETSU has forced at least one takeaway in 20 of its last 27 games and 30 of the last 40 contests … Saturday was the 16th time the Blue and Gold posted two or more takeaways since the restart in 2015.

JD Griffin made his first collegiate start on Saturday night and totaled a career-high nine tackles to lead the Buccaneer defense.  

Redshirt senior linebacker Dylan Weigel (Pickerington, Ohio) and redshirt senior offensive lineman Matt Pyke (Clinton, Tenn.) started all 45 games for the Bucs over their playing careers. 

Weigel, who totaled four tackles on Saturday, finished his career with 420, placing him third all-time among the Buccaneer greats. 

Herink finished his collegiate career with 6,994 passing yards, 33 passing touchdowns, 615 completions and 7,435 yards of total offense … Herink ranks second all-time in program history in completions, third in both passing yards and total offense and fifth in passing touchdowns. 

Jerman finished his career as the all-time leader in field goals made (53), second in extra-points (94) and second in scoring (253).

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