ETSU overcame a 21-point third quarter deficit and a 45-minute weather delay to stun Furman 29-27 at William B. Greene Jr. Stadium Saturday night.
The Paladins came into Saturday night’s game winless this season. For the Bucs, this game was a chance to start conference play 2-0 against a team they have struggled against since ETSU football returned.
After a late-game quarterback change to senior Austin Herink (Cleveland, Tennessee) the Bucs offense finally clicked.
With nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter the Bucs scored on a 12-yard Holmes touchdown run. The Bucs offense did not stop there. With under three minutes remaining in the game, Herink found Matt Thompson (Morristown, Tennessee) for a one-yard touchdown pass.
That Bucs touchdown tied the game 27-27 with 2:38 remaining. A safety by linebacker Dylan Weigel sealed the game for the Bucs, 29-27.
Sanders was optimistic coming into the game.
“If we can get off to a fast start, maybe it gives us a little confidence and creates a little doubt in their mind,” said head coach Randy Sanders.
Unfortunately, the Bucs’ offense was stalled to start the first quarter. However, Furman was able to score early. The score came when Furman’s key weapon, returning running back Kealand Dirks, scored an eight-yard touchdown, giving Furman a 7-0 lead following the extra point conversion.
The Bucs offense scored its first points on a 32-yard field goal by JJ Jerman (Seymour, Tennessee). After the first quarter, the Bucs trailed 7-3.
“They have a freshman and a redshirt freshman quarterback, so we need to try and get after them a little bit,” said Alonzo Francois (Ooltewah, Tennessee).
However, the Bucs struggled to do just that. Furman’s defensive pressure was able to get to the Bucs quarterback very often.
Furman scored first in the second quarter on a 26-yard field goal giving them a 10-3 lead. With seven minutes to go in the second quarter, Furman scored on 30-yard putting Furman up again at 13-3.
Jerman scored the Bucs’ sixth point with 42 seconds remaining in the second quarter, ending the half 13-6 with Furman leading. After lightning in the area delayed the start of the second half by 45 minutes, Furman scored on a 10-yard run two minutes into the third quarter to make the score 20-6.
Furman found their way back in the endzone with under nine minutes remaining in the third quarter scoring on a 14-yard run. The running touchdown gave Furman a 27-6 lead, but the game was not out of reach for ETSU. At the 4:01 mark the Bucs scored their first touchdown when Quay Holmes (Powder Springs, Georgia) scored on a two-yard run to change the score 27-13.
ETSU (3-1, 2-0) returns to action Saturday at home against Chattanooga (4-0, 2-0). Game time is 7:30.