The Bucs traveled to Cullowhee, North Carolina, to face Western Carolina, who came into the game ranked No. 25 in the FCS. The Bucs came into the match with a 3-3 record against a tough 4-2 Western Carolina team.
The offense was not able to keep up with WCU, losing 49-10, dropping their record to 3-4 on the season. Last season the Bucs were able to beat Western Carolina on a JJ Jerman (Seymour, Tennessee) game-winning kick at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Coach Carl Torbush anticipated that Western Carolina was going to come out for revenge after how last season’s match-up turned out. “Right now on offense, they are able to score a lot of points and play with a lot of confidence,” Torbush said.
In the first quarter, the Bucs defense handled themselves well, not allowing Western Carolina to score. The Bucs were able to come out of the first quarter leading 3-0 when Jerman knocked in a 45-yard field goal. On that drive, the Bucs controlled the clock for just about 7 minutes, which would be key going into the game. By controlling the clock for so long, it kept Western Carolina’s offense off the field.
Western Carolina got its first score on a one-yard touchdown with just under 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter. The Bucs went into the half trailing 7-3 but, the Bucs defense did a good enough job in the first half to keep the offense in position to take back the lead.
The third quarter was a different story for the Bucs on defense. With under 11 minutes to play in the third quarter, Western Carolina scored on a three-yard touchdown pass to increase their lead to 14-3. Five minutes later Western Carolina broke free for a 41-yard touchdown run to bring the Bucs deficit to 21-3.
With 39 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Austin Herink’s (Cleveland, Tennessee) pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. At the end of the third quarter, the Bucs trailed 28-3.
The Bucs were able to get a touchdown with under 11 minutes to play when Herink hit Haddon Hill (Knoxville, Tennessee) for a 10-yard touchdown pass, but the damage was done. The Bucs went on to lose 49-10, but saw things they could build on after the game. Falon Lee (Macclenny, Florida) was able to establish the running game for the Bucs, carrying the ball 16 times for 85 yards.
The Bucs will go on a bye this week and the week after will face No.5-ranked Wofford at home.