ETSU suffered its first loss at William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium, falling 31-25 to SoCon rival The Citadel Saturday in front of a crowd of 7,544.
Coming into their matchup against The Citadel, the Bucs looked to bounce back after their defeat to No. 1 ranked James Madison. The Citadel came into the game ranked No. 13 in the FCS. The Bucs got on the board first when Austin Herink (Cleveland, Tennessee) hit Vincent Lowe (Chesapeake, Virginia) for a 22-yard touchdown to give the Bucs a 7-0 lead.
With less than eight minutes remaining in the first quarter The Citadel responded with a touchdown of their own on an 11-play, 75-yard drive which resulted in a 10-yard touchdown run. That tied the game 7-7 with The Citadel controlling the possession time. At the end of the first, Herink completed four out of five passes for a touchdown and an interception that was under thrown.
The Citadel’s option offense was a handful for the Bucs. In just the first quarter The Citadel ran the ball 21 times for 101 yards. The Bucs made the most out of their opportunities when The Citadel threw the ball. Paul Hunter (Denton, Texas) intercepted a pass to give him his second of the year.
In the second quarter, the Bucs defense stepped up, keeping The Citadel in long conversion attempts to give the Bucs offense opportunities to score. With less than two minutes on a busted play, Herink rolled to his left to find Lowe on a 27-yard pass to put the ball inside The Citadel’s seven-yard line. That led to Herink hitting Drake Powell (Clinton, Tennessee) in the back of the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown. With the score, the Bucs led 14-7 going into the half.
The Bucs defense was better in the second quarter, limiting The Citadel to 88 yards rushing and holding The Citadel to 32 yards rushing. Herink passed for two touchdowns in the first half. “We need to shore up the running game; we should not have to throw to move the ball,” said Bucs head coach Carl Torbush.
In the third quarter, the Bucs got on the board first, scoring a field goal when JJ Jerman (Seymour, Tennessee) hit a 46-yard kick to stay perfect on the season. The Citadel responded with a six-minute drive that resulted in a one-yard touchdown run to cut the Bucs lead to 17-14.
The Bucs went into the tight game in the fourth quarter, leading 17-14. The Citadel started the fourth in Bucs scoring territory, scoring on a reverse play for a four-yard run to lead 21-17, their first lead of the game.
With under eight minutes left, The Citadel got their second score of the quarter with a pass over two Buc defenders for a 28-yard touchdown to bring the Bucs deficit to 28-17.
The Bucs answered when Jujuan Stinson (Knoxville, Tennessee) ran for a touchdown on a four-yard scamper. Austin Herink hit Kobe Kelley (Knoxville, Tennessee) for the two-point conversion to bring the Bucs deficit to 28-25. The Citadel hit a 46-yard field goal to bring their lead to 31-25. Ultimately the Bucs could not come up with enough stops, losing 31-25, dropping their record to 1-2 on the season.
“Defensively I thought overall we did well,” Torbush said. “Like I told the guys, being close is not good enough.”