The Buccaneers held serve with Samford for a half.
Unfortunately, ETSU cooled off in the second and the Blue & Gold dropped their Southern Conference opener to the Bulldogs, 42-28, on Saturday afternoon inside Seibert Stadium in Birmingham, Ala.
After forcing three first-half turnovers and being tied at 21 at halftime, ETSU was outscored 21-7 in the second half as Samford secured its first league win of the season. The Bucs totaled 181 yards and three scores in the first half, but were held to 161 yards and seven points in the final 30 minutes. Overall, the Bucs were outgained by the Bulldogs by 205 yards, 547 to 342. Samford passed for 399 yards and rushed for 148, while ETSU passed for 118 and had a season-high 224 on the ground. The Bulldogs ran 36 more plays than the Bucs, 92-56 and totaled 19 more first downs, 34 to 15.
Bryson Irby (Douglasville, Ga.) set career highs in rushing yards (126) and touchdowns (3), while Sheldon Arnold II (Loganville, Ga.) registered two interceptions and had one fumble recovery. Samford quarterback and reigning SoCon Player of the Year Michael Hiers was 42-of-50 for 399 yards with one passing touchdown (two rushing) and two interceptions.
The Bucs suffered their second straight setback and dipped to 1-3, 0-1, while Samford – the reigning conference champions – snapped a three-game skid and improved to 2-3, 1-2.