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|August 31, 2019||1st||2nd||3rd||4th||Final|
|APP||TD||02:58||Thomas 1 Yd Run (Staton kick)|
|APP||TD||06:06||Williams 6 Yd Pass From Thomas (Staton kick)|
|APP||TD||11:35||Evans 13 Yd Run (Staton kick)|
|ETSU||TD||04:35||Nate Adkins 5 Yd Pass From Trey Mitchell (Tyler Keltner kick)|
|APP||TD||00:51||Hennigan 31 Yd Pass From Thomas (Staton kick)|
|APP||TD||09:34||Virgil 15 Yd Run (Staton kick)|
|APP||TD||05:52||Wells 17 Yd Pass From Huesman (Staton kick)|
|Stats at a Glance||ETSU||APP|
|3rd Down Conversions||6-15||6-10|
|4th Down Conversions||1-2||1-1|
|Passing (Comp-Att)||161 (17-27)||167 (17-25)|
|Rushing (Att)||131 (37)||277 (41)|
BOONE, N.C. (Aug. 30, 2019) – For the first time since 2003, the ETSU Buccaneers will travel to Boone, N.C. to square off with former Southern Conference rival, Appalachian State. Saturday’s contest marks the season opener for both squads as kickoff is slated for 3:35 p.m. inside Kidd Brewer Stadium.
Date: Saturday, Aug. 31
Location: Boone, N.C. | Kidd Brewer Stadium
Teams: ETSU (0-0) at Appalachian State (0-0)
Weather: High: 78 Low: 54; Mostly sunny
Live Stats: appstatesports.com/livestats
Live Video: ESPN+ (Harrison Battle & Pierre Banks)
Live Audio: WXSM Radio
Radio Personnel: Jay “Voice of the Bucs” Sandos, Matt Wilhjelm (color analyst), Robert Harper (sideline)
Bucs Making History
ETSU is coming off a historic 2018 season. In his first season at the helm, head coach Randy Sanders directed the Blue & Gold to an overall record of 8-4 and a 6-2 mark in conference play, giving the Buccaneers a share of the league title in just their third season since returning to the SoCon. The Bucs’ eight wins in 2018 season were 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 in program history. After earning a conference title, ETSU made its second playoff appearance in program history and first in 22 years after earning an at-large bid to the FCS Playoffs. The Bucs, who were ranked as high as No. 17 in the FCS Coaches’ Poll last season, captured their fourth conference championship in program history and first since 1969.
Joining the Rankings
Highlighted by its historical 2018 season, the ETSU football team finished ranked in the Top 25 in both major polls as the final rankings. The Bucs were ranked No. 21 in the AFCA FCS Coaches’ Poll and No. 22 in the STATS FCS Poll. The 2018 Buccaneers claimed their first-ever Southern Conference Championship and made their first playoff appearance in 22 years after finishing the year with an overall record of 8-4 and a 6-2 mark in SoCon play. The Blue and Gold won three trophies in 2018 as they knocked off in-state rival Chattanooga in “The Rail Rivalry” and Western Carolina in the “Blue Ridge Border Battle” along with claiming the SoCon crown. Overall, this marked the 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. ETSU, who was ranked in the final eight polls of the season, reached its highest mark of No. 17 following its 21-18 win over Mercer on Nov. 3, securing the Bucs a share of the conference title. The Blue and Gold won five straight games between Sept. 14 – Oct. 13, while the eight wins marked the third-most victories in program history. The six conference wins were also the most since the 1996 team went 7-1 en route to making the first playoff appearance in program history.
Second to None
ETSU’s secondary is second to none in the Southern Conference, led by preseason All-American Tyree Robinson (Gainesville, Ga.) returning with six interceptions from the 2018 season. Joining Robinson in the secondary is SoCon Preseason Second Team All-Defense, Jeremy Lewis (Lawrenceville, Ga.). The duo is also accompanied by Artevius Smith (Birmingham, Ala.) and Karon Delince (Phenix City, Ala.). ETSU’s secondary returns a SoCon-leading 11 interceptions from a season ago.
First Ever SoCon Title
Following its 21-18 win at Mercer, along with Samford’s 35-20 victory over Wofford, ETSU secured a share of the Southern Conference championship, marking the Bucs’ first SoCon title in program history. This marked 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.
What a Player
Nasir Player landed on yet another FCS Preseason All-American squad in the Athlon Sports’ 2019 Preseason FCS All-America Team. Player is the lone Southern Conference representative on the All-American team. Player has become a household name in the SoCon after yet another successful season in which he finished with 43 tackles (25 solo), 11 tackles for loss, six sacks, three forced fumbles and two pass breakups. The experienced lineman was also credited with 11 quarterback hurries. The South Carolina native drew the attention of offensive linemen each game, having to fight through double and triple teams. Nothing could slow down the dynamic star as he was placed on the First Team All-SoCon Defense as well as the three different All-American squads, including the STATS FCS All-American team. In addition, Player was named a STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award Finalist. Prior to the start of the 2019 campaign, Player was tabbed as the 2019 Preseason SoCon Defensive Player of the Year.
According to the ETSU record book, the 21-point comeback over Furman on Sept. 22 was the largest deficit the Bucs have overcome in program history. Prior to that comeback, the previous mark was when the Bucs rallied from 20 points down to beat Chattanooga 24-23 on Oct. 14, 1989. In the Chattanooga game, ETSU was down 10-0 after the first quarter, 16-3 at halftime and went down 23-3 before George Searcy rattled off three straight touchdown runs to help fuel the comeback. Searcy went on to be named SoCon Player of the Year at the end of that season.
ETSU will take advantage of the opportunity to play a 12-game regular season schedule in 2019. The Bucs, who played 12 games a year ago (one playoff ), will play their first 12-game regular season slate since 2003. After rekindling its rivalry with former SoCon rival Appalachian State on Aug. 31, ETSU will enjoy three home games against Shorter (Sept. 7), VMI (Sept. 14) and Austin Peay (Sept. 21). From there, the Blue and Gold head to Furman for their first SoCon road game on Sept. 28 before heading home for a second straight SoCon game against a team that earned a share of the SoCon crown with Wofford on Oct. 5. The Bucs will then be on the road the rest of the month as a Thursday night game at Chattanooga (Oct. 17) is on the slate following the open week and a trip to Birmingham to take on Samford ending the month on Oct. 26. ETSU will then host The Citadel on Nov. 2 for Homecoming, with a trip to Western Carolina (Nov. 9) and Vanderbilt (Nov. 23) sandwiched between its home finale with Mercer on Nov. 16.
Matching up with the Mountaineers
The Mountaineers are under a new direction as former NC State Offensive Coordinator, Eliah Drinkwitz, will make his head coaching debut on Saturday in Boone. Appalachian State is fresh off an 11-2 season, winning a third consecutive Sun Belt title and improving to a nation’s best 4-0 mark in bowl games, while also attaining a Top 25 ranking for the first time in its brief FBS history. The Mountaineers return 10 of 11 offensive starters from last season’s roster and six on the defensive side of the ball.
Since the start of the 2015 season, Appalachian State ranks No. 5 nationally in win percentage (.788), behind only Clemson (.932), Alabama (.932), Ohio State (.889) and Oklahoma (.852).
The Mountaineers are 92-17 at home since 2003, while a 25-5 home record since moving to the FBS level in 2014 gives the Mountaineers the nation’s eighth-best home-winning percentage (.833) during the five-year span.
Offensively Appalachian State is led by veteran quarterback Zac Thomas who was one of only five FBS quarterbacks with at least 20 passing TDs and 10 rushing TDs last season. The Mountaineers are led on the ground by Darrynton Evans who tallied 1,764 all-purpose yards in 2018, including 1,187 rushing yards. Corey Sutton is the premiere wide receiver with 10 touchdown catches during the 2018 campaign. Appalachian State joins Clemson as the only two FBS programs that return a starting quarterback with a passer rating of at least 150, running back who rushed for at least 1,100 yards and a wide receiver with double-digit touchdown catches.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Mountaineers return a strong core that allowed just seven rushing touchdowns in the final 12 games of 2018. Appalachian State has ranked inside the top-25 scoring defenses in each of the last three seasons, highlighted by allowing just 15.5 points per game in 2018. The Mountaineers are tied with San Diego State for first place nationally with 73 interceptions since the start of the 2015 season, led by Desmond Franklin and Josh Thomas who accounted for four interceptions apiece in 2018.
The Bucs and Mountaineers have a rich, historic rivalry dating back to the first meeting in 1928 when the Blue & Gold squeezed out a 9-6 victory. The last showdown between the former conference foes was in 2003 with Appalachian State claiming a 21-7 victory in Boone, N.C. This will be the 47th meeting between the two programs with the Mountaineers holding a 32-13-2 advantage. However, six of ETSU’s 13 wins in the series have come in Boone, N.C.
Saturday’s game will also be broadcast on ESPN+ with the team of Harrison Battle (play-by-play) and Pierre Banks (color commentary) providing 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 Tennessee Lottery 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 and former ETSU quarterback Matt Wilhjelm, sideline reporter Robert Harper, and studio hosts Mike Gallagher and Don Helman 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.
ETSU fans wanting to receive Buccaneer news, score updates, in-game promotions and much more sent to their mobile device can do so by signing up for “Buc Updates.” Click here to sign up today!
For more information on Buccaneer football, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the football page.