ETSU hosts Citadel in final game

By Seth Bartee
STAR Correspondent

   The end is near for Bucs football. Paul Hamilton will lead the Bucs onto the field for the school's last football game this Saturday when they host The Citadel Bulldogs (6-5, 4-3 SoCon).
   ETSU (4-7, 1-6 SoCon, coming off its stunning win against Chattanooga, still believes it is competitive until the end.
   "Our team has gained some confidence after Saturday's game," said Hamilton after the Bucs beat UTC 68-7 in their first SoCon win in 12 games. "Our team helped us by creating turnovers, and Carl Meadows created opportunities for us offensively."
   The Bucs, in their final football game, are playing a Citadel team that is no pushover. The Bulldogs were ranked in the top 25 until they lost to UTC 29-20. The 6-5 Citadel beat Appy St., Georgia Southern and Furman this season. Unlike the Bucs, they were blown out by the SoCon champs, Wofford.
   "This is the best Citadel team we have seen in a while," Hamilton said. "I'm impressed with their defensive play and they have a defensive line that can beat you in so many ways."
   Citadel fans are hoping their team can get its seventh win of the season, the most since their 11-2 record in 1992. The loss of starting TB Nehemiah Broughton (torn ACL) has taken away some kick from the Bulldogs' offense. Broughton has 60 points this season, the most in the SoCon. Ernie Mills picked up the rushing load for Broughton, rushing for 137 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries against VMI last weekend.
   The Bucs come off of a record-breaking game that saw them set a school record for most points in a game. Their 41-point second quarter against the Mocs is the second highest in SoCon history, with Davidson holding the record as it scored 49 points against Furman in 1969. Even with the big win that saw Chattanooga fans and ETSU athletic administration personnel silenced, Paul Hamilton is not laughing.
   "I do not look at last week's win as a time to laugh at critics of ETSU football," he said. "I have been through five or six athletic directors and I'm not surprised ETSU football was dropped."
   The quarterback question finally seems to be coming to some closure. Redshirt freshman Carl Meadows, described as a classic drop-back passer, has thrown for 991 yards this year leading the Bucs. Meadows, after having an impressive start this season, was named SoCon freshman player of the week for the second time this year after his 97-yard, two-touchdown game against Chattanooga.
   "This has been a typical redshirt freshman year for Carl," Hamilton said. "This will be a positive year for him when he looks back on it. He matured and looked good at the end of the Wofford game."
   Consistency has been a luxury for the mature this season for the Bucs. Senior running back Gaven Varner is this week's offensive player of the week. Varner posted his fifth 100-yard game of the season and also broke the 1,000 yard mark for the season.
   Hamilton is not willing to put the blame on anybody as his team time at ETSU is up. He said that he does not even blame the controversial Title IV, which seeks to equalize women's teams to men's.
   As Hamilton has said so many times this season; he is not used to losing.
   "The two hardest things for me this season has been to have a losing season and knowing that I have to finish up here as a coach," he said.
   Tony Tiller is questionable again this weekend. Hamilton said that despite the few injuries the Bucs have had this season, it could have been a lot worse.
   Saturday's kickoff is set for 1 p.m. as ETSU hosts The Citadel for the 24th and final meeting.