East Tennessee State football brought in their first homecoming game at William B. Greene Jr. Stadium with an attendance of 8,540 against Robert Morris. Looking to bounce back from last week’s loss, the Bucs defense led the way for the victory with the Bucs winning 16-3.
In the first quarter, the Bucs defense was locked in, sacking Robert Morris quarterback Jimmy Walker (Redlands, California) twice thanks to solid secondary play for the Bucs defense.
On offense, the Bucs running game still seemed to be nonexistent at times, resulting in third and longs. The Bucs offense failed to score touchdowns twice in Robert Morris territory. Bucs quarterback Austin Herink (Cleveland, Tennessee) finished the first quarter completing three out of his six passes for 45 yards. With less than four minutes remaining, the Bucs got on the board first when JJ Jerman (Seymour, Tennessee) kicked a field goal to give the Bucs a 3-0 lead.
The defense in the second quarter was still solid for the Bucs by getting consistent pressure on the quarterback forcing overthrown passes.
The offense still struggled to protect Herink in the first half. He was hit constantly, which led to him leaving the pocket when he sensed pressure. With less than four minutes remaining in the half, Herink found Drake Powell (Clinton, Tennessee) in the corner of the end zone for a five-yard touchdown pass to lead 10-0 going into the second half.
“This was a great win our kids fought for and our coaches did a great job preparing them,” said Head Coach Carl Torbush. “Nasir has played great all year he had worked really hard in practice.”
In the third quarter, the Bucs offense missed on touchdown opportunities forcing the defense to continue to play at a high level. With just under six minutes to go, Jerman increased the Bucs lead to 13-0 with another field goal kick. The defense remained dominant not allowing a score through three quarters. With under 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Robert Morris got their first score of the game on a 32-yard field goal.
As the fourth quarter went on, the Bucs offense showed flashes that the running game could be a factor to finish the game. With less than two minutes left, the offensive drive started to get momentum entering Bucs territory, but the Bucs defensive pressure forced a turnover on downs after a Robert Morris fumble.
Nasir Player (Columbia, South Carolina) ended the game with three sacks on the day, the fourth most in school history for the defense.
“Nasir has played great all year he had worked really hard in practice,” said Torbush.
The Bucs won their first homecoming game in their new stadium 16-3, but with work that still needed to be done. With the win, the Bucs record improved to 3-3.
“This week was a statement game, we just had to let everyone know we’re back focused,” Player said.