East Tennessee drubs Concord
College, 44-0


Photo by Kristen Luther
Tailback Gaven Varner gains some tough yards for ETSU.

By Ivan Sanders
STAR STAFF
isanders@starhq.com
Dropping a tough game at Eastern Michigan to open the season seemed to make the ETSU Bucs hungry and unfortunately for Concord College, Mountain Lions were fair game on Thursday night in Memorial Center.
Jumping out to a 17-0 halftime edge, ETSU was in high gear in the second half as the Bucs simply thrashed the visitors from West Virginia by a final of 44-0 to run its record to 1-1 on the young season.
"We went backwards offensively in the second quarter, and I wasn't pleased because I felt like we could have put another touchdown or two on the board," said Buc coach Paul Hamilton. "They had everybody but the tuba player on the line to stop our running game and I was pleased with the way Carl (Meadows) stepped up and threw the ball from sideline to sideline."
After running only seven plays in its first two series, the Buc defense turned the heat up on the Lions on Concord's second possession from its own 14-yard line after an illegal procedure penalty.
Lion QB Josh Aliveto was hit by Kingsport native Gerald Sensabaugh, causing the ball to be jarred loose at the Concord 10. Inside linebacker Mike Cullen pounced on the pigskin and ETSU was in business.
After running back Gaven Varner was hit for no gain, he quickly made amends on the next play by going the distance to put the Bucs on the scoreboard. Jon Godfrey was perfect on the extra point attempt and with 8:26 left in the first quarter, ETSU led Concord 7-0.
ETSU's defense stood tall on Concord's next possession, forcing the Lions to a three-and-out possession. Taking over on its own 49-yard line, ETSU wasted little time in putting more points on the board.
Varner picked up seven yards on second down to Concord's 44, with the Bucs calling a timeout to set a play. ETSU's quarterback Carl Meadows found Andrew Nuckolls wide open over the middle for a 44-yard touchdown toss.
Godfrey once again was true and the Bucs held a 14-0 lead with 5:09 remaining in the first quarter. Godfrey closed out the scoring in the half as the place-kicker nailed a 48-yard field goal with four ticks left on the clock before intermission.
The Bucs were a picture of perfection in the third quarter, as ETSU converted every possession into a score. Meadows unleashed an arsenal of passes, connecting on scoring tosses of 54 yards to Brian Matthews and seven yards to Nuckolls for his second TD of the contest.
Meadows just missed another scoring toss as James Rainer pulled in a 48-yard toss at the Concord one-yard line and then fumbled the ball into the end zone, where fellow Buc Frank Green fell on the ball for the score. At the end of three complete, the score stood at 41-0 in favor of State.
Meadows' debut at home was a successful one, as the red-shirt freshman completed 14 of 28 for 300 yards and four touchdowns with one interception.
"They were keying on Gaven (Varner) so we knew we were going to have to air it out," said Meadows of his performance. "I felt more comfortable tonight after getting that first game out of the way last week, and I was confident we could pull out the win."
Another bright performance for the Bucs was that of Godfrey. After struggling last season and losing a lot of confidence, the young kicker came out booming kicks Thursday night.
Connecting on the 49-yarder in the first half, Godfrey came back to hit field goals of 24 yards in the third quarter and capped off the scoring with a monstrous 51-yard kick with 11:09 left in the game. He also was perfect on all his extra point attempts on the evening.
"I dedicated myself to lifting weights and concentrating solely on putting the toe on the ball every day during the summer," said Godfrey. "I just needed to gain my confidence and then convince my teammates and coaches of the same. I want my team to know that I want to help out by going out there and doing my job."
After a big game at Eastern Michigan, Varner carried the ball 20 times for only 65 yards. The lack of a solid rushing game seemed to be a thorn in the flesh of Hamilton.
"We still have a lot of work left to be done, starting tomorrow, to get ready for next Thursday's game," stated Hamilton. "We expected them to key on Gaven and they did, so give Coach Greg Quick and his staff a lot of credit for the game they played against us tonight."
ETSU wraps up its Thursday night schedule next week when they make the long drive to Tennessee-Martin for a televised game. Kickoff is slated at 8.
Game Notes: Coach Hamilton wanted to express his thanks to the great crowd that came out to support the Bucs as they opened at home in its last official season of football. The crowd was also noted by Nuckolls, who stated that everyone on campus, from the students to the faculty, had been super supportive of the team.
The Bucs held the upper hand in total offense as ETSU had 404 yards of total offense to only 161 for Concord.
Aaron Bass kept up his superb kicking by averaging 43.6 yards on five punts, with the longest being 52 yards.