Rushing for a season low 39 yards and turning the ball over three times on the day, the No. 21-ranked ETSU football team was unable to defend sole possession of first place in the Southern Conference Saturday afternoon at Gibbs Stadium, falling to No. 12-ranked Wofford, 30-17.
The Bucs, who dropped to 6-2 overall, 4-1 in SoCon play, watched their five-game winning streak come to an end. Meanwhile, Wofford rebounded from a loss to Furman last week to improve to 5-2, 4-1. ETSU, which remains tied atop the league standings, will now return home to face SoCon rival Western Carolina next week at William B. Greene Jr. Stadium. Kickoff for that contest is set for 3:30 p.m.
The game got off to an inauspicious start for the Bucs, who fell behind 17-0 late in the first half. However, ETSU managed a defensive score and a field goal over the final two minutes of the half to make it 17-10 at the break and take some momentum into the halftime.
Unfortunately for the Bucs, that momentum did not carry into the second half.
Instead, an ill-timed penalty for roughing the punter gave one Wofford drive new life and resulted in a score, and later one of ETSU’s three fumbles on the day gave the Terriers a short field and ultimately another score. In the end, the Bucs trailed 30-10 midway through the fourth quarter and were unable to manufacture another rally despite a one-yard scoring run by freshman tailback Quay Holmes (Powder Springs, Ga.) that made the final 30-17 late in the contest.
Offensively, the Bucs collected 240 yards in the game compared to Wofford’s 327. Senior quarterback Austin Herink (Cleveland) was 21-of-33 through the air for 201 yards and a score, but also had two interceptions in the contest. Meanwhile, the Terriers collected 295 of their 327 yards on the ground.
Defensively, sophomore linebacker Blake Bockrath (Loveland, Ohio) and defensive back Titus Tucker (Lenoir, N.C.) both collected a game high 10 tackles to lead the Bucs. Ironically, the Bucs defense did hold the Wofford offense to their lowest offensive yardage number of the season against SoCon opponents.
HOW THEY SCORED:
Wofford 3, ETSU 0: After stopping the Bucs’ offense on the opening possession of the game, Wofford used nine plays to move 69 yards and take the early lead on a 20-yard field goal from Luke Carter. With 6:52 left in the first quarter, ETSU trailed by three.
Wofford 10, ETSU 0: Even though the Bucs second offensive drive of the game stalled at midfield, ETSU was able to pin the Terriers at their own 5-yard line thanks to a nice punt from senior Marion Watson(Waxhaw, N.C.). However, Wofford proceeded to put together an impressive 15-play, 95-yard drive that resulted in a six-yard scoring run by fullback Andre Stoddard. Carter’s extra point was good and the Terriers led by 10 with 10:02 left in the first half.
Wofford 17, ETSU 0: The Terriers continued to hold all the momentum, as they held the Bucs on a fourth-down conversion attempt and took over at midfield. In just two plays, Wofford scored again, this time on a 44-yard rush by Lennox McAfee. With 5:23 remaining before the intermission, ETSU trailed by 17.
Wofford 17, ETSU 7:TheBucs’ special teams and defense finally provided a spark for ETSU. Following another Watson punt that was downed at the Wofford one-inch line, the Terriers second play from scrimmage was a disaster for the home team. Tailback Nathan Walker was stopped in the end zone for an apparent safety, but instead of taking that loss, Walker appeared to attempt to throw the ball out of the end zone. The result was a fumble that ETSU safety Tyree Robinson(Gainesville, Ga.) recovered for a touchdown. With 2:05 left, the Bucs were on the board and had cut the Wofford lead to just 10.
Wofford 17, ETSU 10:ETSU was not done trying to get back in the game in the first half. Forcing a three-and-out by the Terriers, the Bucs took over at their own 11-yard line with 1:11 left before half and proceeded to move the ball to the Wofford 27-yard line. A 45-yard field goal by JJ Jerman(Seymour) was good and ETSU had moved to within a single possession at the break.
Wofford 24, ETSU 10: After trading a pair of possessions to start the second half, a critical mistake on special teams changed the trajectory of the game. Having forced an apparent punt by Wofford, ETSU senior defensive tackle Tremond Ferrell(Washington, Ga.) was flagged for roughing the punter and gave the Terriers’ drive new life. Six plays later, McAfee scored again on an eight-yard run and the Bucs trailed by 14 with 1:11 left in the third quarter.
Wofford 30, ETSU 10: Disaster struck for theBucs on the next drive after falling behind by two scores, as freshman tailback Jacob Saylors(Jasper) fumbled on the first play from scrimmage deep in ETSU territory. Five plays later Stoddard rumbled in for this second score of the game and the Bucs were facing a 20-point deficit early in the fourth quarter.
Wofford 30, ETSU 17: Trying to mount an improbable comeback, the Bucs finally found some space to throw ball downfield, as Herink and company moved the ball 68 yards in four minutes of game play to ultimately score on a one-yard run by Holmes. With 6:32 left, the score was 30-17.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
With their win on Saturday, Wofford now leads the all-time series with ETSU 14-13, and has now won the last eight meetings. The Terriers also now hold a 7-6 lead all-time in games played at Spartanburg.
Since returning to the Southern Conference in 2016, Wofford is the only team that ETSU has yet to defeat in SoCon play. It will remain that way for now.
The Bucs have forced turnovers in 17 of their last 23 games and 27 of last 36 contests … ETSU is now 10-4 when forcing two or more turnovers in a game.
Tyree Robinson recorded an interception for the third straight game and has four interceptions during this span thanks to his pick in the fourth quarter … Robinson – who also scored on the second-quarter fumble recovery – became the first Buccaneer to score on a fumble since Nov. 9, 2002 when Gerald Sensabaugh scored on a 20-yard return against Wofford.
ETSU committed eight penalties for 66 yards on Saturday.
Titus Tucker (Lenoir, N.C.) totaled a career-high 10 tackles on Saturday, while Blake Bockrath registered his second straight game with double-digit tackles.
ETSU’s streak of registering at least one sack in 10 straight games was snapped
Quay Holmes finished with 160 all-purpose yards as he finished with 79 kickoff return yards, 61 rushing yards and 20 receiving yards … Holmes now has nine rushing touchdowns this season
Two of Marion Watson’s five punts landed inside the 20, including a 52-yard punt that landed at the Wofford 20-yard line
ETSU’s average starting field position was its own 23, with Wofford’s average mark being its own 38; however, the Terriers’ average starting field position in the second half was ETSU’s 49-yard line … The Bucs’ starting field position in the second half was their own 17.
Of the 327 yards allowed by the Buccaneer defenses, 239 of those yards came in the first half.
NEXT GAME UP
The Bucs will return home for the first time in three weeks next Saturday, Oct. 27, when they host Western Carolina at 3:30 p.m. inside William B. Greene Stadium.