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ETSU reveals conference-only football slate Bucs kick off season Feb. 20

CONTRIBUTED BY ETSU

JOHNSON CITY – For the first time in program history, the Bucs will be playing a regular season football slate in the spring instead of the fall.

The Southern Conference announced its unique schedule for the 2021 Spring season on Wednesday afternoon as the Bucs will take the field eight times against league opponents only.

The SoCon Spring season will commence on Saturday, Feb. 20 and will conclude with the regular-season finale on Saturday, April 17. The FCS Playoffs will begin the following week on Saturday, April 24.

The Opener

The Bucs will begin the season with a home showdown against Samford on Feb. 20 inside William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium.

This will be the first official game in 455 days as the Bucs squared off against Vanderbilt on Nov. 23, 2019. The Bucs are 1-6 all-time against the Bulldogs as Samford has rattled off three consecutive wins in the all-time series.

ETSU dropped a narrow 24-17 loss to the Bulldogs in 2019 in Birmingham in the most recent bout. The Bucs are 1-3 against Samford when playing at home, winning a 15-14 thriller on Nov. 19, 2016 following JJ Jerman’s game-winning field goal.

The Bulldogs were ranked No. 18 coming into that showdown as the Bucs capped off the season in the final game played at Kermit Tipton Stadium on the campus of Science Hill High School.

ETSU is 3-2 in season openers since the return of football and 40-42-3 all-time in season openers. Meanwhile, the Bucs are 2-2 in SoCon openers since bringing football back in 2015 and 14-15 all-time in SoCon openers.

On the Road

Following the home game against Samford, the Bucs will hit the road for back-to-back showdowns against VMI (Feb. 27) and Wofford (March 6).

ETSU is 15-10 all-time when taking on the Keydets, including dropping a nail-biting 31-24 overtime last season in Johnson City. The seven-point loss to VMI was not determined until 1:08 a.m. on Sunday as the game was delayed a total of 132 minutes due to weather, plus the addition of overtime.

ETSU will then turn its attention to knocking off Wofford as the Terriers seek their fourth consecutive SoCon Championship. The Bucs have not bested the Terriers since Nov. 7, 1998, holding a 13-15 all-time record against Wofford (6-7 in Spartanburg).

Facing Furman

Following the contest against Wofford, the Bucs will welcome a familiar South Carolina foe in Furman. ETSU is 1-0 inside Greene Stadium thanks to a historic 2018 game in which the Paladins squandered a 21-point lead as the Bucs completed the largest come-from-behind victory in program history.

Blue Ridge Border Battle

The annual Blue Ridge Border Battle will return to Greene Stadium this season as the two rivals will duke it out for the 50th time in program history on March 27.

The Bucs are 23-25-1 all-time against Western Carolina, dropping an overtime battle in Cullowhee, N.C. last season by the final score of 23-20. The two Blue Ridge rivals have not decided the outcome of the game in regulation for the last two seasons, going to overtime in 2019 and triple overtime in 2018.

Final Road Swing

ETSU will hit the road for the final time in a two-game swing at The Citadel (April 3) and Mercer (April 10).

The Bucs are 16-12 when squaring off against the Bulldogs, including 7-7 when playing in Charleston. The Citadel claimed the most recent contest by a narrow margin of 31-27 on Nov. 2, 2019 in Johnson City.

The Bucs own a narrow 3-2 record all-time against Mercer, having won three consecutive showdowns against the Bears.

The contest in 2019 was one for the record books as Quay Holmes (Powder Springs, Ga.) broke a 21-year old rushing record, carrying the ball for 255 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries as ETSU claimed the 38-33 win in the 2019 SoCon finale.

Rail Rivalry

The 2021 Spring regular season finale will be on April 17 as the Bucs host Chattanooga in the Rail Rivalry.

The rivalry between the two teams dates back to 1961, while the introduction of The Rail began in 2018. The Bucs won the inaugural Rail Rivalry showdown in 2018 (17-14) at Greene Stadium before dropping a narrow 16-13 contest at Chattanooga last season.

The Bucs lead the all-time series when played in Johnson City, 11-8-1.

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