The 2021 Southern Conference Champions have earned the No. 7 overall seed in the upcoming FCS Playoffs. The Buccaneer football team has earned the much-deserved bye in the opening round and will play host to the winner of Kennesaw State and Davidson on Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. inside William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium.
The Bucs earned their fifth conference championship in program history and second SoCon title in school history. ETSU will also play just its second home playoff game in program history. The Bucs defeated Villanova in 1996 in the only other home playoff game, taking down the Wildcats 35-29 inside the MiniDome.
The Bucs are coming off a thrilling 38-35 win over Mercer on Saturday in front of a raucous, record crowd of 10,594 fans at Greene Stadium. ETSU came out victorious in the back-and-forth affair with Mercer missing the game-tying field goal as time expired. The Bucs relied on a heavy dose of the pass game in the win as Tyler Riddell (Tampa, Fla.) completed 26-of-29 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns. Quay Holmes (Powder Springs, Ga.) soared into the record books with 132 yards rushing to become ETSU’s all-time leading rusher and single-season leading rusher. The Buccaneer defense also forced three turnovers, all three via the interception en route to winning the 2021 SoCon title.
Kennesaw State earned the automatic bid as the Big South Champion, running away from Monmouth yesterday by the final score of 49-17. The Owls enter the playoffs with a 10-1 overall record with their only loss coming at Georgia Tech by the final of 45-17 on Sept. 11. Kennesaw State is led by quarterback Xavier Shepherd who leads FCS in rushing touchdowns with 19, adding 836 yards on 221 carries. Shepherd has also thrown for 1,181 yards and 14 touchdowns on the season.
The Bucs and Owls have quite the history, despite only meeting twice on the gridiron. The former ASUN rivals first met in 2015 in ETSU’s first game back from a hiatus and Kennesaw State’s first game in program history. The Owls toppled ETSU 56-16 in Johnson City, Tenn. The Bucs captured revenge the following year, downing Kennesaw State on its home turf by the final score of 20-17 in overtime.
Davidson finished off an 8-2 regular-season mark, winning the Pioneer Football League to earn the automatic bid into the FCS Playoffs. The Wildcats capped off the regular season with a 45-14 triumph over Drake to earn the conference title. Dylan Sparks and Coy Williams have accounted for 22 combined touchdowns and 1,492 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, quarterback Louis Colosimo has tossed the ball for 953 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Like Kennesaw State, Davidson has only squared off with the Bucs twice in program history. ETSU holds a 2-0 record against the Wildcats, winning 41-16 on Sept. 20, 1986 and claiming a 31-28 victory on Nov. 5, 1988. Both games were played in Johnson City, Tenn.