JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The ETSU football team hosted its first playoff game since 1996 with the Buccaneers beating Kennesaw State 32-31 in the second round of the FCS Playoffs Saturday at William B. Greene Stadium.
This was a defensive battle all four quarters which was jumpstarted by a scoreless first quarter. These teams combined for 98 total yards after the first 15 minutes.
The Johnson City squad struck first in the second quarter with quarterback Tyler Riddell flinging it out to Quay Holmes on the screen, who broke a couple of tackles on his way to the endzone for a 34-yard score.
The Owls responded on their very next drive with a 50-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Jonathan Murphy to Iaan Cousin.
Randy Sanders and his squad followed up that drive by marching down the field before settling for a 47-yard field goal from Tyler Keltner. It looked as though Kennesaw would knot this game up before the half, but the Owls coughed the ball up inside the Buccaneers 20-yard line, giving the Bucs a three-point lead heading into the break.
The Buccaneers started the second half strong as they scored a 31-yard touchdown from Holmes, who broke at least five tackles on the score. The Owls answered on the very next possession with a 22-yard Murphy touchdown pass to running back Kyle Glover.
Kennesaw State took its first lead of the game late in the third quarter when Murphy trudged his way in from a yard out to give the Owls a 21-17 lead. They padded that advantage with another rushing touchdown from Murphy, this time from nine yards out in the fourth quarter.
Kennesaw State’s Nathan Robertson kicked a 45-yard field goal to increase the Owls lead to 31-17.
With less than a minute and a half left in the game, the Bucs fired back up and completed a 12-yard touchdown pass to Will Huzzie, making the score 31-24 and a single-touchdown game.
In the final minute of regulation, Holmes completed a pass to Tyler Riddell in the endzone. In true Bucs fashion, Sanders told his squad to go for the two-point conversion to win the game.
Tyler Riddell completed his own pass to Nate Adkins for the last-second conversion, and the Bucs tasted victory, 32-21.
The Blue and Gold will travel to North Dakota for Round 3 of the FCS playoffs on Saturday, Dec. 11. North Dakota State boasts the same 11-1 record as the Bucs after a commanding win over Southern Illinois.