The home finale did not disappoint as ETSU held several celebrations throughout the game including: Senior Day, celebrating a 38-33 win and most notably witnessing a program rushing record set by Quay Holmes (Powder Springs, Ga.) as he scampered for 255 yards. Holmes’ 255-yard performance broke a 21-year-old record of 242 yards held by ETSU Hall of Famer, Brandon Walker.
With the 38-33 win over Mercer, ETSU improved to 3-8 on the season and 1-7 in the Southern Conference, winning the final league game of the season. With the loss, the Bears fall to 4-7 (3-5 SoCon).
The Bucs scored on all five possessions in the first half, jumping out to a 10-7 lead over the Bears in the first 15 minutes of play. ETSU’s first-quarter touchdown was a Jacob Saylors (Cleveland, Tenn.) 2-yard spurt to give the Blue & Gold the advantage.
After a Mercer touchdown to start the second quarter, the Bucs rattled off three consecutive touchdown drives for 21 unanswered points and a 31-14 halftime lead. Holmes accounted for two of the three touchdowns with a four-yard touchdown run and a one-yard punch into the endzone. ETSU’s final touchdown of the half came after Artevius Smith’s (Birmingham, Ala.) goal-line interception was returned to the Mercer 27-yard line. ETSU’s freshman quarterback Tyler Riddell (Tampa, Fla.) found Keith Coffee (Miami, Fla.) for a 27-yard touchdown strike on the very next play to provide the Bucs with the 17-point cushion with nine seconds left in the half.
The Bears pulled within five in the second half after a 13-yard touchdown by Tyray Devezin in the third quarter and a Chris Ellington four-yard touchdown catch to open the fourth quarter. Mercer scored 12 unanswered points but missed the extra point on the first touchdown of the second half and later failed the two-point passing play in the fourth quarter.
ETSU reclaimed the 12-point advantage after Holmes found the endzone for the third time, this time a three-yard touchdown run. Holmes’ third touchdown run tied a personal best for the ETSU sophomore, recording three touchdowns in the 2018 Homecoming win over Gardner-Webb on Oct. 6.
The Bears struck again with 4:33 remaining in the game as Devezin recorded his fourth touchdown carry of the game, a seven-yard run to cap off a 10-play, 78-yard drive.
ETSU held on to the ball for the final 4:33 on the clock, rushing the ball for 60 yards to seal the win. Holmes carried the ball seven times for 60 yards on the final drive to lift the Blue & Gold to the win and soar into the record books with his 255 yards rushing.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
Mercer 7, ETSU 0: The Bears drove the length of the field in their opening drive, punching the ball into the endzone following a 12-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by an 11-yard touchdown run from Tyray Devezin.
Mercer 7, ETSU 3: The Bucs scored on their first drive of the ball game thanks to a 21-yard field goal from Tyler Keltner. Keltner’s field goal was set up by a 64-yard scamper by Quay Holmes on the first play from scrimmage for the Bucs.
ETSU 10, Mercer 7: ETSU took its first lead of the game on its next drive after a 3-play, 82-yard drive that took just 1:20 off the clock. The scoring touchdown was set up by a 74-yard rush by Holmes to open the drive. Jacob Saylors punched the ball in from two yards out to put the Bucs ahead by three.
Mercer 14, ETSU 10: Mercer reclaimed the edge early in the second quarter after a 1-yard touchdown run by Devezine that capped off a 7-play, 75-yard drive.
ETSU 17, Mercer 14: The Bucs began a string of 21 unanswered points beginning with a 4-yard touchdown run from Holmes, his first of the game. Holmes’ touchdown was aided by a 41-yard direct snap to Noah West, rushing down to the Mercer eight-yard line. Three plays later, the Bucs captured the lead once again.
ETSU 24, Mercer 14: ETSU scored for the fourth straight possession as Holmes once again punched in a redzone touchdown. The drive began following an interception by ETSU’s Donovan Manuel. Tyler Riddell finished 3-for-3 on the drive for 20 yards and rushed for six, leading to Holmes touchdown punch.
ETSU 31, Mercer 14: The Bucs scored for the fifth consecutive drive and third unanswered as it only took one play to score from 27 yards out. Following an interception by Artevius Smith put ETSU on Mercer’s 27-yard line, Riddell connected with Keith Coffee for his first collegiate touchdown pass.
ETSU 31, Mercer 20: The Bears struck first in the second half with Devezin’s third touchdown rush of the game, this time from 13 yards out. Devezin’s rush capped off a 2-play, 27-yard drive. Mercer’s Caleb Dowden missed the ensuing extra point.
ETSU 31, Mercer 26: Mercer scored on the first play in the fourth quarter following a four-yard touchdown pass from Kaelan Riley to Chris Ellington. Riley’s touchdown pass pulled the Bears within one possession after a 12-play, 81-yard drive. Mercer’s two-point conversion was snuffed out by Nasir Player, wrapping up Riley in the backfield.
ETSU 38, Mercer 26: The Bucs provided some breathing room with Holmes third touchdown rush of the game, this time from three yards out. Saylors accounted for 61 yards on the scoring drive, including 36 receiving yards. ETSU’s scoring drive lasted 5:50 and took 11 plays to drive 72 yards.
ETSU 38, Mercer 33: Mercer made the game interesting yet again with a touchdown run from Devezin, his fourth touchdown carry of the game. Devezin scored from seven yards out with 4:33 remaining to trim the ETSU lead to five.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Quay Holmes rushed for 255 yards which surpassed Brandon Walker’s previous school record of 242 set in 1998 against Charleston Southern … Holmes’ 255 yards is also the most by a SoCon player this season and is tied for 20th-most in SoCon history for single-game rushing yards.
Holmes recorded a career-long of 74 yards in one carry on the second drive of the game, marking the second-longest play from scrimmage since 2015 … Holmes’ 74-yard scamper is the longest rush since the return of football.
Holmes’ 64-yard carry on the first play of the opening drive is the longest first play from scrimmage for the Bucs since the return of football.
Holmes eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the first time in his career and becomes the fifth player in program history to do so … It is the sixth time a Buccaneer has accomplished the feat as Brandon Walker did it twice in his career … Holmes has now rushed for 2,061 yards in his career.
The Georgia native carried the ball for 145 rushing yards in the first quarter, marking the fifth most in SoCon history.
Tyler Keltner (Tallahassee, Fla.) knocked in a 21-yard field goal on the Bucs’ opening drive, registering his 14th made field goal of the season … Keltner’s 14 field goals is tied for third-most in a single season in program history.
Artevius Smith recorded his fifth interception of the season, returning the ball for 39 yards, marking the second-longest interception return in the SoCon this season.
The Bucs put up 31 first-half points, the most for the Bucs since the return of football at ETSU.
Holmes crossed the pylon three times in the win over Mercer, tying a personal-best of three touchdown runs set against Gardner-Webb on Oct. 6, 2018.
The Bears missed a field goal in the third quarter … ETSU opponents have now converted just 7-of-17 field goals for 41 percent on the season.
Colton Lakes (Loveland, Ohio) led the Bucs in tackles with nine, while Jason Maduafokwa (Seymour, Tenn.) paced the team in tackles for loss (2.0) and sacks (1.0).
The ETSU defense came up with two interceptions, one by Smith and then one by Donovan Manuel (Ellenwood, Ga.), his first career interception.
The Bucs rushed for 410 yards on the afternoon, marking the most rushing yards in a single game since the return of football … The previous team-high was 323 yards against West Virginia Wesleyan on Oct. 20, 2016.
The Bucs have now won three consecutive games against Mercer, improving to 3-2 in the all-time series.
ETSU is now 4-1 in home finales since the return of football in 2015.
NEXT GAME UP
ETSU will close out the 2019 regular season with a 3:30 p.m. (ET) showdown against the Commodores of Vanderbilt. The two squads will meet on the gridiron at Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 23.