February 20, 20211st2nd3rd4thFinal
1st Quarter
SAMTD09:13Dakota Chapman 5 Yd Pass From Chris Oladokun (M. Fineran kick)
SAMTD01:49Jay Stanton 1 Yd Run (M. Fineran kick)
2nd Quarter
ETSUTD00:05Quay Holmes 1 Yd Run (Tyler Keltner kick)
3rd Quarter
ETSUTD09:18Quay Holmes 1 Yd Run (Tyler Keltner kick)
SAMFG06:09M. Fineran 34 Yd
4th Quarter
ETSUFG14:55Tyler Keltner 28 Yd
ETSUTD05:28J. Lane-Price 59 Yd Pass From Tyler Riddell (Tyler Keltner kick)
Stats at a GlanceSAMETSU
1st Downs2516
3rd Down Conversions8-195-14
4th Down Conversions2-20-1
Passing (Comp-Att)231 (36-55) 191 (15-30)
Rushing (Att)89 (34) 134 (37)
Total Yards320325
Fumbles Lost02
Defense Comes up Big in Season-Opening Win
Defense Comes up Big in Season-Opening Win
Saturday, February 20, 2021

Bucs topple Samford, 24-17, at Greene Stadium

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 20, 2021) – The ETSU Football team delivered quite the defensive performance in the much-anticipated season opener as ETSU toppled Samford on Saturday by the final score of 24-17. The Southern Conference battle was played at William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium in Johnson City, Tenn.

The Bucs overcame a 14-0 deficit in the first quarter, outscoring the Bulldogs 24-3 in the final 45 minutes of play. The victory over Samford halted ETSU’s three-game skid against the Bulldogs as the Blue & Gold improved to 1-0 to start the season for the fourth time in six years.

Samford scored on its first two drives of the game, quickly building a 14-0 advantage over the home squad. The Bucs were able to crack the scoreboard with five seconds left in the opening half as Quay Holmes (Powder Springs, Ga.) punched in a 1-yard touchdown run to trim the deficit in half.

Holmes was back at it again in the third quarter, finishing off another drive with a 1-yard punishing run to tie the game at 14-14. Holmes’ touchdown was set up by a 59-yard punt return from Alijah Huzzie (Franklin, Ga.) and 30 yards rushing on the ground from Jacob Saylors (Jasper, Tenn.).

The two squads traded field goals as neither team could gain any separation. Tyler Keltner (Tallahassee, Fla.) connected on a 28-yard field goal for his first attempt of the season, knotting things up at 17-17 with 14:55 left in the game.

The ETSU defense halted Samford’s offense on back-to-back drives, putting the ball back in the hands of the Bucs with 6:21 left to play. Three plays later, the Blue & Gold claimed their first lead of the contest after Tyler Riddell (Tampa, Fla.) found Juliun Lane-Price (Mosheim, Tenn.) for a 59-yard strike. The touchdown reception was the first for Lane-Price as he put the Bucs on top, 24-17.

The final drive was filled with drama as the Bulldogs began the series on their own 27-yard line with 2:31 remaining. Chris Oladokun pushed the Samford offense down to the ETSU 26-yard line with 16 ticks left on the clock. On 2nd-and-10, the Bucs flushed Oladokun out of the pocket as Jalen Porter (Gallatin, Tenn.) tipped the pass and Donovan Manuel (Ellenwood, Ga.) came down with the game-sealing interception. Manuel’s interception allowed the Bucs to line up in victory formation, securing the win in front of the home faithful.

First Quarter

  • Samford 7, ETSU 0: Samford struck first on its opening drive, with Oladokun connecting with Dakota Chapman on a 5-yard pass to the corner of the endzone.
  • Samford 14, ETSU 0: The Bulldogs doubled their lead with a Jay Stanton 1-yard rush on their second drive of the game.

Second Quarter

  • Samford 14, ETSU 7: The Bucs cracked the scoreboard following Holmes’ first rushing touchdown of the season, capping off a 69-yard, 12-play drive.

Third Quarter

  • ETSU 14, Samford 14: Holmes found the endzone for the second time in the game with another 1-yard punch. The touchdown ended a 4-play, 31-yard drive that was enabled by a dominant punt return and 30 yards on the ground from Saylors.
  • Samford 17, ETSU 14: The Bulldogs immediately reclaimed the lead with a 34-yard field goal from Mitchell Fineran.

Fourth Quarter

  • ETSU 17, Samford 17: ETSU knotted the game back at 17 apiece with Keltner’s 28-yard field goal, his first field goal of the season.
  • ETSU 24, Samford 17: The Bucs captured their first lead of the game, an advantage that would not be relinquished. ETSU’s game-winning touchdown came from a 59-yard touchdown strike to Lane-Price from Riddell.


  • With the victory, ETSU begins the season 1-0 for the fourth time in six seasons.
  • The Bucs’ triumph over the Bulldogs snapped a three-game skid, giving ETSU its second win over Samford in the brief history.
  • Quay Holmes rushed for 125 yards and two scores, pushing his career total to 2,196 yards, passing both Jerry Butler and Derrick Hollins for 7th all-time in ETSU history.
  • Holmes’ two touchdowns against the Bulldogs marked his sixth career multi-rushing touchdown performance.
  • After allowing 14 points and 159 yards in the first quarter, the Buccaneer defense yielded just 161 yards and three points over the final three frames.
  • The Bulldogs began the day 5-for-5 on third-down conversions, but finished with just three conversions in the final 14 attempts.
  • Tyler Riddell’s 59-yard pass was both the longest touchdown pass in his career and longest completion of his career.
  • The ETSU defense sacked Samford eight times, marking the most since pulling down Reece Udinski eight times against VMI on Sept. 14, 2018.
  • The Bucs allowed just 37 yards of offense in 19 plays, shifting the momentum back to the Bucs heading into the locker room.
  • Alijah Huzzie set up ETSU’s second touchdown of the game with a 59-yard punt return, the longest ETSU punt return since a 69-yard touchdown against VMI on Sept. 14, 2018.
  • The Buccaneer defense hauled in two interceptions, one from Huzzie and one from Manuel. This is the ninth time since the restart of the program that the Bucs have pulled down multiple interceptions in a single game.
  • Four different players tied for the team-high in tackles (9): Jared Folks (Harrisburg, Pa.), Huzzie, Manuel and newcomer Mike Price (Stockbridge, Ga.).
  • In his first start behind center, Riddell finished the game 14-of-25 with 186 yards and one touchdown.

The Bucs will be back in action on March 6 when they travel to Spartanburg, S.C. to take on Wofford at noon. The showdown will come after ETSU’s bye week on Feb. 27.

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