JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – ETSU’s offense fell flat in its SoCon home opener on Saturday, as Mercer made big plays in the passing game to secure a 24-6 win.

The Blue and Gold took the field already at a disadvantage, as starting wide receivers Einaj Carter and Xavier Gaillardetz were suspended ahead of the Homecoming tilt for an off-field disciplinary issue.

Still, Deven Brantley recovered an early fumble for the Johnson City squad, and appeared to have them in business. But, the Bucs faltered after losing starting quarterback Tyler Riddell, again, in the first quarter.

He hit the turf on a third-down incompletion and remained down for a few moments, grabbing at his left knee. He walked himself into the blue medical tent on the sideline, and then into the locker room.

He finished his day 2-of-6 for six yards passing and -4 yards rushing.

The offense struggled for the remainder of the contest, finishing with just 108 total yards. Timmy Dorsey was 2-of-12 for 11 yards in relief of Riddell, while rushing for 29 yards on ten carries.

Bryson Irby led the running back room with nine attempts for 29 yards and a lost fumble.

The Blue and Gold defense had a strong performance for much of the evening, wrapping up the Bears behind the line of scrimmage seven times, including a pair of sacks. The Bucs also got two forced fumbles from Sheldon Arnold II and Teddy Wilson.

Arnold and Stephen Scott led the charge with 12 tackles each.

However, Mercer quarterback Carter Peevy connected with wideout Ty James 14 times for 285 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

ETSU (1-4, 0-2 SoCon) will try again for its first conference win against Wofford next Saturday at home. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.