JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – ETSU had its best offensive performance on the ground all season, but mistakes plagued the Blue and Gold in a 31-24 defeat at the hands of the Keydets on Saturday.

ETSU running back Zach Borisch was declared ineligible for the game against VMI – and still, the Bucs rushed for a season-high 286 yards.

The two teams went without scoring in the first quarter. However, VMI’s Hunter Rice put the visitors on the board early in the second quarter, 7-0.

Redshirt-freshman quarterback William Riddle led a ten-play, 75-yard drive to knot the score, 7-7. Riddle leaped over the offensive line for a successful quarterback sneak.

An Ewan Johnson field goal gave the Blue and Gold a 10-7 advantage at halftime.

In the third quarter, the Bucs’ ground game went to work. Trey Foster (32 yards) and Torey Lambert (64 yards) scored on back-to-back possessions to extend the lead to 24-14 heading into the final frame.

From there, the Keydets’ comeback was on.

Collin Shannon hit Ivan Thorpe for a 12-yard strike with 12:23 remaining, chopping the lead to 24-21. On the ensuing ETSU drive, Xavier Gaillardetz had the ball stripped after a short reception, as the visitors pounced on the fumble.

A 46-yard field goal from Caden Beck tied the game, 24-24, with 9:49 to play.

The Bucs punted the ball back to VMI, who then chewed up nearly six minutes of game clock on a touchdown drive. The Keydets went 79 yards in 15 plays, capped-off by Rice’s third rushing touchdown of the day.

Trailing 31-24, the Bucs got one more chance with the ball. Riddle hit Tim Stayskal for a 30-yard strike with under 30 seconds remaining in the game, bringing the Bucs down within seven yards of the endzone.

However, all four attempts from Riddle fell incomplete, as the Keydets stood tall to preserve the 31-24 win.

Riddle was 13-of-30 for 138 yards and an interception. The Bucs did most of their damage on the ground, as Trey Foster carried the ball 28 times for 172 yards, a fumble and a touchdown. He also was the team’s leading receiver with five catches for 45 yards.

Lambert added 90 yards on just seven carries, while Amir Dendy chipped in nine carries for 34 yards.

ETSU contained VMI’s rushing attack for much of the night, as their leading rusher Rashad Raymond managed just 67 yards. Quarterback Collin Shannon, however, completed 21-of-38 passes for 209 yards, an interception and a touchdown.

Sheldon Arnold II had another standout performance for the Blue and Gold with six tackles, a forced fumble, fumble recovery and interception.

ETSU (2-7, 1-5 SoCon) faces a stiff road test at nationally-ranked Western Carolina next Saturday.