Going into the 2016-17 season, the ETSU football team had many questions — including who would lead the team at quarterback.
The answer was Austin Herink (Cleveland, Tenn), who helped the Bucs beat Kennesaw State, a team that prevailed over the Bucs last year, during ETSU’s opener on Sept. 3.
“Austin gives us great leadership skills,” said Head Coach Carl Torbush. “I thought he threw the ball really well and obviously our offensive line did a much better job protecting this season. If he continues to improve he has a chance to be a solid college athlete. He’s very poised and a great representation of an ETSU student-athlete.”
Herink finished the game with completions on 18 passes on 26 attempts for 214 yards. Most importantly, he did not allow any turnovers.
After a solid defensive game in the first quarter, ending the quarter at zero a piece, the Bucs were able to get on the board with a field goal by JJ Jerman (Seymour, Tenn.) from 37 yards out to get a 3-0 lead minutes into the second quarter.
The Bucs struggled with penalties throughout the game, finishing with 12 for 121 yards.
With five minutes left in the match, Kennesaw State scored a touchdown on a 10 play drive to give them the 7-3 lead going into the half.
Despite rushing over 100 yards, the Buc’s running game only produced 2.5 yards per carry, something they’ll need to increase in order to open up more passes down field.
“I think our backs have to be more explosive,” Torbush said. “Jujuan Stinson (Knoxville, Tenn.) made some really nice plays and Falon Lee (Macclenny, Fl.) has to be more explosive. I think we have a couple of guys that didn’t get to play that can give us something, but it was a tough physical game. Both defenses did a good job of slowing the run down per carry.”
Coach Torbush was most happy about the Bucs ability to hold on to the ball.
Four minutes into the third quarter the Bucs scored a touchdown on a 10 play drive of their own to reclaim the lead 10-7. In the final minute of the third quarter Kennesaw St. scored a field goal to end the third quarter 10-10.
In the fourth quarter, much like the first, both defenses were not allowing either offense a chance to score, which brought the game into overtime with a score of 10-10.
The Bucs struck first, scoring a touchdown on a three play drive when Austin Herink scored on a one-yard run.
Kennesaw State answered back on a seven play drive on 4th and 18. Chandler Burks (Douglasville, Ga.) passed to Justin Sumpter (Tyrone,Ga.) for 22-yard touchdown to bring the game into double overtime.
Having the ball to start double overtime, Kennesaw State’s offense was shut down forcing a field goal that missed wide right to give the Bucs the chance to finish the game.
On a drive on 3rd and 17, Austin Herink delivered a 20-yard pass to Hank Black (Knoxville, Tenn.) to help secure a game-winning field goal by JJ Jerman from 24 yards out.
The Bucs won the double-overtime battle 20-17 over Kennesaw State.
“I think we were much better in the secondary,” Torbush said. “Guys have more experience now with Ryan Powers (Jupiter, Fl.) and Paul Hunter (Denton, Texas).
Torbush also said that they are excited to see how Nasir Player (Columbia S.C.) will continue to play throughout the season.
Next, the Bucs take on Western Carolina Sept. 17 at Bristol Motor Speedway.