The football season was on the line last Saturday as the Bucs traveled to play Jacksonville State in Alabama. Coming up just short in their last regular season game, the Bucs understood to play on the road they would have to play their best game of the season.

“This is not a new experience for [Jacksonville State],” coach Randy Sanders said. “They are used to going to the playoffs. That’s kind of what they expect. It’s new to us, but that does not change how you approach the game.”

The Bucs’ opening drive was almost everything they could have hoped for, moving the ball downfield vertically and with good success running the ball. However, in the red zone, Jacksonville State was able to force an incomplete pass resulting in a 22-yard field goal by JJ Jerman (Seymour, Tennessee) to give the Bucs a 3-0 lead.

With less than three minutes remaining in the first quarter, Jacksonville State scored on a 37-yard one hand catch to take the lead 7-3 over the Bucs.

A huge defensive play occurred at the end of the first quarter as Titus Tucker (Dacula, Georgia) intercepted a pass returning it for 60-yards to conclude the first quarter with the Bucs leading 10-7 following the extra point.

On the opening drive of the second quarter, Jacksonville State responded with a 28-yard field goal. That following drive, the Bucs answered with a touchdown when Austin Herink (Cleveland, Tennessee) threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Evan Wick (Hallettsville, Texas) to give the Bucs a 17-10 lead following the extra point.

Jerman closed out the first half converting on a 45-yard field goal to give the Bucs a 20-10 lead and momentum starting with the ball next half.

Offensively the Bucs could not generate any points, and the defense, who had been so good in the first half, allowed 10 points in the third quarter.

The fourth quarter turnovers played a significant factor as a pick-six and a fumble in the red zone ultimately gave Jacksonville State what they needed to finish the game.

The Bucs’ season came to an end last Saturday as they faced No. 8 ranked Jacksonville State in the opening round of the FCS playoffs. The Bucs lost 34-27, but this taste of success will have them motivated for the next season.