Bucs edged by No. 10 Chattanooga in second half comeback
Published 11:45 am Monday, October 3, 2022
Mocs retain The Rail as Bucs slip in fourth quarter
JOHNSON CITY – It was a tale of two halves for ETSU football on Saturday.
Unfortunately, after jumping out to a 13-0 lead at halftime and taking a 10-point advantage into the fourth quarter, the Buccaneers could not hold on as No. 10 Chattanooga rallied for a 24-16 victory on a cool and rainy Saturday at William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium.
The Bucs surrendered 21 fourth-quarter points and couldn’t muster much offense in the final 30 minutes as the Mocs kept The Rail for a third straight time.
In the first half, ETSU outgained the Mocs 190 to 68 en route to a 13-point lead. However, things shifted in the final 30 minutes where Chattanooga – the preseason Southern Conference favorite – totaled 271 yards of offense and limited the Bucs to 44 yards.
For the game, ETSU finished with 234 yards of offense (144 rushing/90 passing) while being held to 11 first downs and 1-of-14 on third down. The Mocs registered 339 yards of offense (118 rushing/221 passing) and generated 15 of their 23 first downs in the second half. Chattanooga was 9-of-16 on third down and held the ball for nearly 33 minutes, including for 18-plus minutes in the second half. Chattanooga ran 19 more plays than ETSU, 75 to 56, with the Mocs averaging 4.5 yards per play to the Bucs’ 4.2 mark.
With the loss, ETSU dropped to 2-3 overall and 0-3 in conference play, while Chattanooga improved to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in league action.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
ETSU 7, Chattanooga 0: The Bucs started strong on the game’s first possession, driving 83 yards on seven plays for a touchdown. Sophomore running back Bryson Irby (Douglasville, Ga.) capped off the drive with his longest-career rush for a 36-yard score.
ETSU 10, Chattanooga 0: Junior kicker Tyler Keltner (Tallahassee, Fla.) moved up the record book with a 32-yard field goal to make it 10-0 with his 238th career point scored. He now ranks fourth all-time, moving ahead of Jerry Chapman (1995-98) with 244.
ETSU 13, Chattanooga 0: After a botched snap by Chattanooga on a punt, ETSU took over in the red zone and Keltner extended the lead with a 32-yard field goal. The Bucs led with just under eight minutes remaining in the half and took the 13-0 lead into the locker room.
ETSU 13, Chattanooga 3: After the ETSU defense held its rival scoreless in the first half, the No. 10 Mocs got on the board with a 37-yard field goal from Andrew Southard with 3:08 to go in the third quarter.
ETSU 13, Chattanooga 10: The Mocs pulled within a possession in the first minute of the fourth quarter, capping off a 53-yard drive with a nine-yard touchdown run from Ailym Ford. The extra point made it 13-10 with 14:22 remaining.
Chattanooga 17, ETSU 13: Chattanooga took its first lead of the game with 10:38 to go, scoring on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Preston Hutchinson to Jamoi Mayes.
Chattanooga 17, ETSU 16: Special teams woes nearly cost Chattanooga the lead midway through the fourth quarter when a Trace Kelley (Gallatin, Tenn.) punt hit off the back of the Mocs’ Chris Houston and the Buccaneers recovered. ETSU turned that into three points with another Keltner field goal, which tied his single-game career high set last season at Vanderbilt. It pulled the Bucs within one point with 7:10 remaining in the contest.
Chattanooga 24, ETSU 16: The Mocs killed nearly six minutes on its final drive, finishing a 12-play, 75-yard drive with a one-yard rush by Ford — his second touchdown. ETSU tried to drive down the field with 1:11 remaining, but the final Hail Mary pass was unsuccessful at the goal line.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Saturday’s game was moved from 7:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. due to the threat of heavy rain from Hurricane Ian … ETSU sold 10,247 tickets to the game with 6,933 fans attending the in-state rivalry.
Senior Jacob Saylors (Jasper, Tenn.), who became the third Buccaneer running back in program history to eclipse the 3,000-yard mark for a career last Saturday, finished with 93 yards on 22 carries, while adding one catch for 22 yards, resulting in 115 all-purpose yards … For his career, Saylors moved over the 5,000 all-purpose yards mark for his career as he sits at 5,030
Redshirt sophomore Alijah Huzzie (Franklin, Ga.) registered his third interception of the season and has recorded at least one pick in ETSU’s first five games … Huzzie now has nine career interceptions, while the three this season ties his season total from 2021
Redshirt freshman linebacker Chandler Martin (Lithonia, Ga.) recorded third double-digit tackle game this season as he finished with a game-high 10 tackles, including three tackles for loss, one sack and two pass breakups.
In the first quarter, ETSU rushed 12 times for 99 yards … Chattanooga entered the game allowing 99.5 yards per game
The Bucs scored on their opening drive for the second time this season when Bryson Irby ripped off a career-long 36-yard run … ETSU also scored on its first series in the season-opening win versus Mars Hill when Jacob Saylors scored on a 40-yard run
Deven Brantley (Riverdale, Ga.) recorded his first career solo sack, while sophomore defensive back Sheldon Arnold, II (Loganville, Ga.) finished a career-high nine tackles in his first start of the season
Following his four receptions for 40 yards, Will Huzzie (Duluth, Ga.) moved into a tie for fifth all-time with 125 career catches … Huzzie is tied with Chris Beatty (1991-94)
Tyler Keltner moved into fourth all-time on the ETSU scoring list with 244 points … Keltner was 3-for-4 in field goals, tying a career high with three made field goals, while he is now 109-for-109 in extra-points
Both teams combined to go 7-for-7 in red zone scoring with ETSU being held to three field goals and Chattanooga scoring three touchdowns and one field goal
Both quarterbacks were sacked three times
ETSU was plus-3 in turnovers (two fumble recoveries/one interception) but only converted the Chattanooga miscues into three points.
The Bucs will look for their first conference win next week on the road at VMI. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. in Lexington, Va.
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