On Sept. 2, the East Tennessee State football team played their first game in their new home, William B. Greene Jr. stadium, downing the Limestone Saints 31-10.
The energy from the opening kick was ecstatic with a 9,530 attendance.
With the toss, Limestone deferred to the second half and the Bucs started with the ball. On their opening drive, the Bucs offensive line was solid holding their blocks allowing quarterback Austin Herink (Cleveland, Tennessee) to follow his progressions and find open receivers and running lanes for running back Jajaun Stinson (Knoxville, Tennesseee) to make tough runs to keep the drive steady.
The Bucs got on the board first with a deep ball by Herink to newly converted receiver Andrew Heyward (Powder Springs, Georgia) for the 43-yard score to lead 7-0 in the first quarter. Herink finished the quarter completing all eight of his passes for 80 yards.
The Bucs defense was very physical, getting after the Saints quarterback throughout the first quarter forcing short drives. In the second quarter, Herink’s hot passing continued when he connected with Anthony Spagnoletti (Bealeton, Virginia) on a 45-yard pass to give the Bucs a 14-0 lead.
Limestone got on the board with less than six minutes remaining in the first half, converting on a field goal to bring the Bucs lead to 14-3.
With 38 seconds remaining the Bucs took a 21-3 lead when Stinson leaped over the goal line to end a great half for the Bucs.
At the half, the Bucs had 15 first downs compared to Limestone’s three. The Bucs defense was solid going into the half, only allowing Limestone 65 yards total. The third quarter for the Bucs was no different, where Herink completed 15 straight passes, a school record.
With under 12 minutes to play, Herink was able to connect with Vincent Lowe (Chesapeake, Virginia) who was able to blow by a defender on a 25-yard pass to give the Bucs a 28-3 lead. Limestone was able to answer with their first scoring touchdown of the night with under five minutes in the third.
Early in the fourth quarter, kicker JJ Jerman (Seymour, Tennessee) knocked in a 48-yard field goal to give the Bucs a 31-10 lead that would remain that way until the end of play. The Bucs defense stayed locked for the remainder of the fourth, not allowing Limestone another shot.
“I felt really comfortable with this being our third year with a lot of guys being back,” said Herink.
Herink completed 16-20 passes for 239 yards while tying a career best three touchdown passes. Stinson led the Bucs in rushing with 88 yards and a touchdown run.
On the defensive side of the ball, Nasir Player (Columbia, South Carolina) led the Bucs with 10 tackles constantly putting pressure on the opposing quarterback.
“For us, if we just go out and do our job we’ll be fine,” Player said. “We won’t play up to our ability if we try to do things we are not capable of.”
The Bucs will travel to James Madison University on Saturday for their first away game of the season.
“I’m excited about our fan base; it’s an excellent feeling for our players and staff,” Head Coach Carl Torbush said. “Next week we go against a No. 1 team, James Madison, and it’s a great measuring stick for us.”