The East Tennessee State football returned home to William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium to face No.8-ranked Wofford with a chance to knock off the top team in the conference. Coming into the match-up the Bucs record was 3-4 coming off a bye to prepare for a tested Wofford team. Wofford came into the game looking to bounce back from a tough loss to Samford, which ended their pursuit of a perfect season, giving them a 6-1 record.
The Bucs were a trip away from potentially pulling off the upset.
Wofford did a good job of moving the ball on their first possession, going 66 yards on 14 plays to get on the board first to lead 3-0.
In the second quarter, the Bucs responded with a score of their own when JJ Jerman (Seymour, Tennessee) kicked a career-best 51-yard field goal, which was the second longest in school history.
Wofford’s offense hit the Bucs defense with big explosive plays their next possession, hitting two passes for over 20 yards. That resulted in a nine-yard touchdown pass to give Wofford a 10-3 lead after the extra point. With under five minutes remaining the Bucs offensive line was able to get movement, giving Austin Herink (Cleveland, Tennessee) just enough time to hit Hunter Wike on a 27-yard touchdown pass to tie the game 10-10 after the extra kick.
Wofford’s offense responded immediately after scoring on a 45-yard touchdown run. The drive only took five plays for 65 yards, and Wofford led 17-10 after the extra point. The Bucs trailed 17-10 going into the half. Wofford quarterback Brandon Goodson (Dacula, Georgia) came into the game completing under 55 percent of his passes, but finished the half completing 60 percent of his passes. Wofford finished the half with 197 yards on the ground, while the Bucs had just 12.
“I thought we fought our butts off, ” said Herink. “I’m really proud how we fought compared to how we played them last season.”
With under eight minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Bucs tied the game at 17 when Matt Thompson (Morristown, Tennessee) ran for a one-yard touchdown. Wofford was able to answer after a Bucs fumble at the Bucs 20-yard line. With under four minutes remaining in the third, a three-yard touchdown run pushed the lead 24-17 after the extra point.
Wofford took a two-touchdown lead when they scored a 47-yard touchdown on a crucial third and 15 play with 12 minutes remaining in the game. With under seven minutes to play, Herink found Drake Powell (Clinton, Tennessee) in the back of the end zone for a six-yard touchdown pass to bring the Bucs’ deficit to 31-24 after the extra point. The Bucs final drive ended after a stumble to pick up the first down ended in a turnover on downs.
The Bucs as a team only ran for 15 yards on 33 carries, an area the Bucs have struggled with this season.
“We have to be able to run the ball,” said Head Coach Carl Torbush. “There’s no reason they should have scored on third and 15 — I don’t think they expected to score on that play.”