Webb stuns ETSU

By Matt Hill

   BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. -- Saturday night was proof that it could be a long season for the East Tennessee State football team.
   The Buccaneers continued their struggles with a 13-10 loss to Division I-AA newcomer Gardner-Webb at Spangler Stadium.
   "This is a devastating, difficult loss," said ETSU head coach Paul Hamilton. "You could sense it, you could feel it by the way we played early in the season. We have not played like a good football team in many areas throughout the season."
   In a game that was suspended by over an hour by a severe thunderstorm with 1:51 to go in the third quarter, the Bucs looked like they were going to make a run after the delay. But a win wasn't meant to be.
   A 26-yard punt return by Cecil Moore put the Bucs at the Gardner-Webb 34-yard line with 8:42 to go in regulation. The Bucs moved all the way to the Bulldog 5 when quarterback Dashannon Gamble found Gaven Varner for a 29-yard gain.
   Varner took the football in the end zone from five yards out on the next play and the Bucs were within three points at 13-10.
   After the Bucs held Gardner-Webb in check their next possession, ETSU had 4:31 to drive for the victory.
   Gamble made a fourth-down conversion to keep the drive alive at the ETSU 39. The Bucs were facing that situation again four plays later, and this time they weren't as lucky.
   Gamble threw a perfect pass to Moore, a usually reliable receiver, and it was dropped. That sealed the deal for Gardner-Webb.
   Hamilton was a little surprised Moore didn't make the play.
   "It's hard to understand," Hamilton said. "He's a great player and he made so many great plays for us tonight. We had so many other opportunities to get him the ball, and we didn't.
   "I guess he's trying hard and wants to make the plays for us all the time."
   Before the storm and after it, the game was one the Bucs would like to forget.
   ETSU was outgained in total yardage 353 to 229 as the Buccaneers trailed the whole way.
   The Bucs fell behind 10-0 in the first quarter, and they couldn't recover.
   Gamble started at quarterback for ETSU, but was pulled late in the first quarter for Jatavis Sanders. Sanders went an impressive 10-of-12 for 114 yards, but injured his shoulder two plays before the delay.
   ETSU linebacker Scott Brumett had a much more serious injury, as he was carried off the field just before halftime.
   Gardner-Webb quarterback Jeremy Martin had an impressive night, finishing 21-of-34 for 227 yards and a touchdown.
   Varner concluded the night with 58 yards rushing to lead the Bucs. Moore had 91 yards receiving on five catches.
   Special teams play was costly for ETSU, as Scott Sammons missed a field goal and a chance for another after a fumbled snap.
   The Bucs drop to 1-2 with the defeat, while Gardner-Webb is 2-1 after taking its first win over a Southern Conference team.
   ETSU will be back in action next Saturday night in Memorial Center against VMI.