ETSU looks to win sixth consecutive home opener
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – ETSU football will look to build off its convincing season-opening win at Vanderbilt on Saturday as the Bucs welcome UVA Wise into town tomorrow. The showdown between the Bucs and the Cavaliers will be the first-ever meeting between the two teams. Kickoff at William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium will commence at 7:30 p.m.
Date: Saturday, Sept. 11
Location: Johnson City, Tenn. | Greene Stadium
Teams: ETSU (1-0) vs. UVA Wise (1-0)
Weather: High: 81; Low: 58; Sunny
Live Stats: ETSUBucs.com
Live Video: ESPN3
Live Audio: WXSM Radio
Radio Personnel: Jay “Voice of the Bucs” Sandos, Matt Wilhjelm (analyst), Robert Harper (sideline)
Game Sponsor: BrightRidge
Nashville…That was Fun
The ETSU football team put itself on the map on Saturday with a monumental win over SEC foe Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville. The Bucs toppled the Commodores by the final score of 23-3, becoming just the second FCS team to hold an SEC opponent without a touchdown since the 1978 FCS/FBS split. The Bucs surrendered the first three points before buckling down to hold Vanderbilt scoreless over the final three quarters of play. The victory over the Power-5 foe was the first win over a Power-5 opponent for the Bucs since 1987 when ETSU defeated N.C. State, 29-14. The Bucs received $415k for the trip to Nashville in addition to the earning the season-opening win.
Good to be Home
The Bucs were able to relish in the big win on Saturday for just a couple of short days as the Bucs made national headlines for the win over Vanderbilt. However, Coach Sanders will be the first to tell you that it is on to opportunity number two – and that is just how ETSU has responded this week in practice. The Bucs will be gearing up for the home opener in addition to Heroes Day at Greene Stadium. The Blue & Gold have claimed five consecutive home openers, including holding a perfect 4-0 record in the home opener inside the state-of-the-art stadium that is perched on the campus of ETSU. The Bucs will also be holding Heroes Day in which all active/veteran military, frontline healthcare workers and first responders will receive free admission to the game.
Will Huzzie and Malik Murray both hail from Duluth, Ga. and we wouldn’t trade them for anything. Both wide receivers had explosive games on Saturday in Nashville. Huzzie led the team in receptions (4) and receiving yards (62), doing what he does best in a Buccaneer uniform. The redshirt-sophomore even hauled in a one-handed catch, something that us Buccaneer fans have all become accustomed to. Murray is new in a Buccaneer uniform, having transferred from Georgia Southern. The redshirt-senior wide out showed the Buccaneer faithful what he is capable of, finishing the game with three receptions for 52 yards and the lone offensive touchdown. Murray had the first big catch of the game with a 43-yard connection from quarterback Tyler Riddell. The duo finished off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown to put the Bucs ahead for good.
Fourth Quarter of Fury
ETSU waited until the fourth quarter to force a turnover against the Vanderbilt offense. The Bucs, having a knack for playing tight on the ball, had their hands in several opportunities throughout the game of forcing a turnover. However, once the first turnover happened, the rest was history. The final three Vanderbilt drives resulted in turnovers, beginning with the scoop and score from Stephen Scott. The very next possession, the Commodores drove the length of the field before senior defensive back Karon Delince picked one off on the goal line and returned it 99 yards to the house. Unfortunately for Delince, a questionable unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was called at the Vanderbilt 4-yard line, wiping away the touchdown and making it a 95-yard interception return instead. Never the matter, the final possession for Vanderbilt resulted in a Sheldon Arnold II interception, his first of his career as he picked it off in the endzone to conclude the game in complete agony for the Commodores.
ETSU entered the season receiving votes in the Stats Perform FCS Top 25 poll and following the big win on Saturday, those votes grew significantly. The Bucs enter the weekend showdown as the 15th-ranked team in the Stats Perform FCS Top 25 rankings, in addition to jumping into 19th in the AFCA Coaches Poll. The 15th ranking is the highest ranking for the Bucs since the Blue & Gold were slated 12th on Oct. 27 in 1997.
Unwrapping UVA Wise
Saturday will feature a new opponent for the Bucs in the form of South Atlantic competitor, UVA Wise. The Cavaliers, an NCAA Division II squad, enter the game with a 1-0 record coming off a 54-0 win over University of Virginia-Lynchburg. The Cavaliers received a big boost from quarterback Lendon Redwine who set a UVA Wise Division II era school record with six touchdown passes. Redwine finished 24-of-34 for 326 yards in the pass-heavy offense. The UVA Wise defense proved stout in the season opener, holding the opponents scoreless and recording a conference-record 13 sacks in the process. Much like the Bucs, the Cavaliers forced three turnovers in the game. The last time the Cavaliers faced off against a Division I opponent was Sept. 14, 2019 when UVA Wise fell 31-14 to Tennessee Tech. The last SoCon school to challenge the Cavaliers was Wofford on Sept. 27, 2014 with the Terriers claiming the 49-15 victory.
The Buccaneer Sports Network (BSN) will provide ETSU fans with complete pregame, in-game and postgame coverage on the Bucs’ flagship station WXSM-AM 640 and affiliate station 104.9 FM NASH ICON.
The BSN begins its pregame programing one hour and 30 minutes prior to kickoff with the 30-minute-long Tennessee Lottery Tailgate Show, followed by the Randy Sanders Pregame Show serviced by Tommie’s Plumbing which will lead up to 30 minutes prior to kickoff. The Appalachian Orthopaedic Countdown to Kickoff will then lead into the final moments before kickoff.
The broadcast team of “Voice of the Bucs” Jay Sandos, color analyst Matt Wihljelm, sideline reporter Robert Harper, and studio hosts Mike Gallagher and Don Helman will provide ETSU fans all the information they need to complement their game-day activities.
At halftime, the crew will have the Zaxby’s Halftime Show, while fans can tune into the Mullican Flooring Post Game Show for a full wrap up, with game statistics, players and coach interviews, and other post-game information.
Saturday’s game will also be broadcast on ESPN3 with the team of Mike Gallagher (play-by-play) and Mark Hutsell (color) on the call.
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For more information on Buccaneer football, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the football page.