The Bucs were not the comeback team last Saturday.
The ETSU football team has made it known that they do not fear starting behind and ending the game on top, but the Mercer Bears proved that they can do the same.
The Mercer Bears scored 14 unanswered points in the final quarter of the game to bring them ahead of the Bucs and win the game, 21-13.
“It’s so fun to be in a game and compete with a great opponent like Mercer,” said ETSU quarterback Austin Herink (Cleveland, Tenn.). “The losses don’t feel any easier. This one feels worse. We had a chance. This one stings, but I think the positive we can take out of it is seeing what difference a year makes.”
ETSU was leading 13-7 in the final quarter with a chance to claim victory before a 33-yard touchdown pass from John Russ to Marquise Irvin brought the Bears within one point with 13:16 remaining in the game.
Irvin led Mercer’s receivers with eight catches for 86 yards.
Later in the quarter the Bears struck again and scored on a four-yard touchdown pass to Chandler Curtis to give the Bears a 21-13 lead. The Bucs were unable to respond.
John Russ contributed 172 yards in the air, three touchdowns and 91 yards on the ground. The Bears ended with 367 yards of total offense.
Despite not getting the win, ETSU’s Drake Powell (Clinton, Tenn.) finished with a highlight game. Powell finished with a career-high 143 receiving yards, completed his first collegiate touchdown reception and made the longest play for ETSU since the program has been back. The Bucs ended with 372 yards of total offense.
“We had a lot of guys make a lot of individual plays,” said Head Coach Carl Torbush. “I thought the effort was great. We just didn’t make enough plays.”
The Bucs were shy two plays compared to Mercer, 74-72.
The next game for the Bucs will be next weekend as they host Cumberland Saturday for Homecoming. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Kermit Tipton Stadium.