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Bucs seek first win over Terriers since bringing back football

Joe Avento • Oct 5, 2019 at 10:30 AM

JOHNSON CITY — The East Tennessee State football team’s search for its first Southern Conference victory doesn’t get any easier this week.

Wofford (2-2, 1-1) visits Greene Stadium on Saturday, and the Terriers have been tough on the Bucs (2-3, 0-2) through the years — winning each meeting by seven points.

“No doubt that every game we play is probably going to be close because this is a good conference,” ETSU receiver Anthony Spagnoletti said. “It’s stacked. Every team’s a good team.”

Kickoff for ETSU’s only home game in October is set for 3:35 p.m.

The Terriers have scored 100 points over their past two games and are coming off a 51-36 victory over VMI in which they gained 672 yards of total offense. The Bucs dropped a 17-10 to Furman last week.

“It’s really just a matter of doing your job on every play,” Spagnoletti said. “Like coach mentions, you never know what play is going to be that play that can change the outcome of the game. Honestly, if you take out two, three, four plays for both of those games, the outcome can be completely different.”

Since the return of football at ETSU, Wofford is the only school the Bucs have yet to beat and has won the last eight games in the series. Bucs coach Randy Sanders says that has nothing to do with Saturday’s game, and he’s right, considering the last time ETSU beat the Terriers was 1998 when many of his current players weren’t even born yet.

According to the ETSU sports information staff, it’s been 7,637 days since the Bucs beat Wofford.

“We don’t have many guys on our team that have participated in many Wofford games,” Sanders said. “I looked. Probably around 47 to 48% of our travel squad last week, the group we took to Furman, were freshmen. These freshmen, most of them had never played Wofford. They have no clue. They don’t know what they’re getting into.”

What they’re getting into is a battle with the team that has won the past two SoCon titles, tying for the title with ETSU and Furman last year. Wofford beat the Bucs 30-17 last season.

“It would be nice to win, yes,” Sanders said “Probably looking back on a victory would mean a lot to the program and what we’re trying to do, but at this point let’s just take it one play at a time, do our job on each play, try to win each play. And if you win each play, the end result will take care of itself.”


Wofford’s triple option leads the SoCon in rushing, averaging 344.3 yards on the ground per game. That’s second nationally.

The Bucs average almost 200 fewer yards per game and are still second in the league.

“Doing your job, trusting each other, that’s the big thing,” ETSU linebacker Jared Folks said. “Trust that the man next to you is going to do his job so you can do yours. If you’re doing somebody else’s job, then who’s doing yours? So everybody doing their job, then we’ll be fine.”


Wofford has nine of 11 starters on offense from last year back and it shows. With a strong and experienced line in front of him, quarterback Joe Newman has led the Terriers, averaging 101 rushing yards per game.

Against VMI, Newman passed for 142 yards and two touchdowns with just five completions.


Wofford is the second-smallest FCS school with an enrollment of 1,670 students. Presbyterian is the smallest at 1,100 while VMI ranks third at 1,685.