For the second time this season, the Bucs meet with an opponent they fell short to in their first season last year.
On Nov. 5, the ETSU football team will travel to Macon, Georgia to take on the Mercer Bears for their homecoming game.
ETSU wide receiver Dalton Ponchillia (Nashville, Tenn.) feels that spoiling their homecoming will add to the win.
“I think it’s always exciting going into another team’s Homecoming game and have the opportunity to spoil it, because it would always hurt to also lose a homecoming game,” Ponchillia said. “I would say everyone on the team would be excited to go and ruin Mercer’s Homecoming.”
Last season the Bucs traveled to Macon to take on Mercer and headed back home with a 52-0 loss. The Bucs defeated Kennesaw State University in the season opener 20-17, but last season, Kennesaw came out triumphant 56-16 in the season opener at Kermit Tipton Stadium.
ETSU looks to do Mercer the same way, defeat them the second time around to show that the Bucs are not the same team as they were last year.
“When you go back and play the same team you played last year in the same environment, it gives you an opportunity to see how much improvement you’ve made in a year, so we will find that out really quick,” said Head Coach Carl Torbush. “Because we’ve got basically the same guys we had last year, and they have basically the same guys they had last year.”
Mercer’s football team is just two years older than ETSU’s, as they brought back their program in 2013. With that being just a few years ago, the team will bring a lot of maturity with their number of juniors and seniors on the team.
Mercer enters the game right at .500 for the season, with four wins and four loses. Three of those loses were against teams ETSU struggled with also; The Citadel, Chattanooga and Wofford.
The Bears bring a big force on offense. So far this season, senior quarterback John Russ (Buford, Ga.) has completed 14 touchdowns, throws at 61.94 percent and averages 223.63 yards.
“He’s a redshirt senior, so he’s seen the very beginning of this program to get to where it is right now and you can see it,” Torbush said. “He’s a very experienced quarterback, and he understands the game. He’s a guy that we’re going to have to slow down to have a chance to win.
Russ’ 14 touchdowns have been spread well amongst the receivers. Four of Mercer’s receivers have completed at least three touchdowns this season. Sophomore Marquise Irvin (Huntsville, Ala.) leads the team with six and averages about 75.88 yards a game.
The Bucs are currently 3-5 overall and 1-5 in Southern Conference action with three games left in the season. Of these three game, two are SoCon opponents (Mercer and Samford). The Bucs look for revenge against Mercer this weekend to bring in their homecoming game against Cumberland the following week.
Kickoff on Saturday is set for 3 p.m.