Unexpected eruption

Bucs demolish Chattanooga, 68-7

By Seth Bartee
STAR Correspondent

   It's taken all season but Bucs football finally broke out against UT-Chattanooga (3-8, 3-4 SoCon), beating them 68-7 and stopping their 12-game SoCon winless streak.
   No one expected the kind of route that saw ETSU (4-7, 1-6 SoCon) set a scoring record and its players jump old hurdles as well.
   The Bucs broke their own scoring record of 62 points in a single game. The old record was against Charleston Southern in 1992.
   Matt Palmer, senior linebacker, broke the record for tackles for a loss, and senior running back Gaven Varner topped the 1,000-yard mark, the first Bucs player to do that since 1999.
   So much happened positively for the Bucs Saturday that it's hard to know where to start. I will try to start at the logical place, from the beginning.
   In the first quarter Nick Spearman fumbled and UTC's Leonard Mays recovered at the ETSU 41. The Mocs scored on a 1-yard run by Kyle Oden to go up 7-0 early in the first quarter, but that would be the last bright spot UTC would see all day.
   On the Bucs' fifth drive, Carl Meadows hooked up with WR Andrew Nuckolls for a 20-yard gain to get within scoring distance, on the UTC 27 yard line. Andre Brooks scored on a 1-yard run to tie the game 7-7.
   After going up 14-7 at the beginning of the second quarter on a Gaven Varner 7-yard TD run, the Bucs turned right back around and Meadows again connected with Andrew Nuckolls for a 32-yard TD catch to make the game 21-7. Nuckolls had 63 yards receiving, 1 TD Saturday.
   In the second quarter, ETSU scored 41 of its 68 points. Primus Glover intercepted a Vinnie Miroth pass and set the Bucs up for another Gaven Varner TD run from three yards out to make the score 28-7.
   With 4:59 left in the first half, Montreal Harkley blocked a punt inside ETSU's red zone and James Rainer recovered it in the end zone to put the Bucs up 35-7. Harkley then intercepted another Miroth pass that allowed for Meadows to hit Justin Cruze from 13 yards. The Bucs lead was now 41-7, as Jon Godfrey had his extra point blocked.
   Gerald Sensabaugh got in on the act and blocked a punt with 1:58 left in the first half. This then set up ETSU for a 5-play, 33-yard scoring drive to make the game 48-7 at halftime.
   UTC head coach Rodney Allison was astonished after the game. UTC had impressive wins against Western Carolina and a comeback against No. 25 Citadel last week.
   "We got outcoached and outplayed today," said Allison. "Everything that could go wrong went wrong for us today. I don't know, we just got outcoached."
   Paul Hamilton was pleased with his team.
   "I'm real proud of this team," said Hamilton. "I think we are kind of an amazing story."
   Saturday's game was amazing seeing that ETSU had struggled the most in the middle two quarters. In third this Saturday, ETSU shined.
   The Moccasins' first drive was again plagued by ETSU's tough defense. Sensabaugh stripped a complete pass from Barrett Brightwell on the UTC 39. Varner ran for a 23-yard gain to put the Bucs on the Mocs 15. Carl Meadows then scored on a 10-yard QB sneak. Arms raised, Meadows made the game 54-7.
   "This offense was great today," said Meadows. "They were opening holes that my Mom could have run through. If this were a 16 week NFL season we would have a real chance in the SoCon."
   The most spectacular play of the game came when Allen Davis intercepted another Vinnie Miroth pass and ran it back for a 90-yard TD. This was the third longest interception run in ETSU history, making the game 61-7. Davis had 51 punt return yards and one interception on the day.
   The Bucs final score of the day came in style as walk on Joseph Gosman rushed for nine yards to drive the nail in the coffin, 68-7. Hamilton said Gosman was the "Rudy" of the team.
   Gosman said it was all right with him being called a Rudy.
   "This season has been tough for everyone," said Gosman when asked about his tenure at ETSU. "Everyone has made decisions this season that nobody wants to make, including the coaches and players."
   When Hamilton was asked if his team finally brought it all together on Saturday, he finally got emotional. He choked up for a minute with tears in his eyes.
   "I've said before that all some of these guys need is another spring practice," he said. "We prepared for today's game the way we always did. The players do exactly what I asked them to do everyday in the games and practice."
   ETSU notes:
   The Bucs' 68 points were just six shy of scoring against all SoCon opponents combined. If they would have scored one more TD, they would have matched their 74 points scored against all others SoCon opponents this season.
   ETSU's defense held the top-ranked passer in the SoCon, Vinnie Miroth, to only 84 yards passing. They also sacked him three times and intercepted three passes.
   Defensively the Bucs forced the Mocs to punt eight times and held them to 5 for 18 on third-down conversions.
   The Bucs were 6 of 10 on third down conversions. In total offense, ETSU had 387 yards.