Owls spoil ETSU Football’s opening night

Published 12:13 am Friday, September 4, 2015


by Bryce Phillips

Star Staff

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JOHNSON CITY—After 12 years without a football program, the East Tennessee State University Buccaneers stormed onto Steve Spurrier Field to face off with Kennesaw State University.

Even though high spirits filled the air, the Buccaneers were not able to start things off with a win, dropping the game 56-16, allowing the Owls to win the first game in their inaugural year.

With the Kermit Tipton Stadium filled to the brim with loud and rowdy ETSU students and fans, the air was electric, to say the least. 8,000 people were in attendance for the game.

The stadium rumbled with anticipation as the Buccaneers prepared to run out onto the field for the first time in a long time. Once the flood of navy blue and gold was let loose, the stadium exploded with cheers from the home crowd.

“It was great energy,” ETSU running back Jajuan Stinson said after the game. “We really appreciate the community coming out. They really helped to spark us in the first half.”

The Bucs struck first in the first quarter, after a long drive by the Bucs, as kicker J.J. Jerman,  kicked a 36-yard field goal to give the Bucs their first points in the new era.

With 1:33 left in the first quarter, KSU answered the Bucs’ field goal with a six-yard rushing TD. With the field goal good, KSU climbed out to a 7-3 lead.

In the second quarter, Jerman booted a 31-yard field goal after a four-play drive by ETSU. With the field goal, the Bucs closed the gap to 7-6.

On their next possession, the Buccaneers drove 50 yards in the seven plays on a drive that was capped off by a 12-yard rushing TD by Stinson. With the PAT good, the Bucs climbed out to a 13-7 lead.

“It felt great getting the first touchdown of the new era,” Stinson said. “Having the ability to score the first touchdown in twelve years felt really good.”

But things started to unravel for the Bucs as KSU posted two-consecutive TDs in the second quarter, the second of which was a 19-yard pick six by Kennesaw’s Nick Perrotta.

At the half, the Buccaneers were down 21-13.

In the third quarter, KSU kept up their momentum as they posted three TDs in the single quarter. One of those TDs was a 69-yard TD pass from Trey White to Justin Sumpter. The Owls finished up their third quarter scoring with a 63-yard rushing TD from Darrnell Holland.

The Owls posted two more TDs in the final quarter, but the Buccaneers got the last word, with Jerman blasting in a 46-yard field goal for the points of the game.

Offensively, the Bucs had 328 yard of total offense, with 98 coming on the ground and 230 coming from the air. ETSU QB Herink led the air assault with 132 yards passing, while going 14 of 22. On the ground, the Bucs were led by Stinson who had 34 yards on seven carries. Stinson was followed up by Tony Drew who finished with 30 yards on four carries.

The Owls finished their big night with 512 yards of total offense — 416 rushing and 96 passing.

Even thought the night ended with a Bucs loss, head coach Carl Torbush was still positive.

“If we would have played for a quarter in a half we would have won the ball game,” he said. “All we have to do now is play for two and half more quarters. We have a lot of things to work on, but I think that everything that we have right now is correctable.”

The Bucs will be back at it next Thursday as they host Maryville College. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.