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Bucs visit Catamounts still seeking first SoCon win

Joe Avento • Nov 9, 2019 at 8:30 AM

CULLOWHEE, N.C. — The Southern Conference football game between East Tennessee State and Western Carolina is important to exactly two teams.

While the other seven league teams are still mathematically alive for the title, ETSU (2-7, 0-6) and Western Carolina (2-7, 1-5) are simply battling to stay out of last place. Kickoff on Saturday at Whitmire Stadium is set for 3:30 p.m.

The Bucs are coming off a heartbreaking 31-27 loss to The Citadel. They’ve lost five games in a row, four of them by seven points or fewer.

Quay Holmes continues to star for ETSU. The sophomore running back had 120 rushing yards last week and leads the SoCon in all-purpose yards.

If ETSU is to have any success Saturday, it will have to deal with Western Carolina quarterback Tyrie Adams, one of the most dynamic players in the SoCon.

Adams is fourth in the conference in total yards at 218 per game. He hasn’t run as much as in the past — just 311 yards in seven games — but is still one of the most dangerous players in the league.

“He’s a good football player,” ETSU coach Randy Sanders said. “They’ve done a nice job of trying to utilize his abilities. Last week he didn’t run for that many yards, although he’s always a threat with his legs. He had a really nice game throwing and threw for a lot of yards.”

Western Carolina is coming off a 43-35 victory over VMI, and Adams’ 42-yard touchdown pass to Daquan Patten sealed the win. He hit 14 of 22 passes for 322 yards and three touchdowns.

“Adams obviously gets a lot of attention and deservedly so, but he’s got some pretty good weapons around him to help him out,” Sanders said.


Bucs strong safety Artevius Smith was named to the Buck Buchanan Award watch list this week. The award goes to the top defensive player in the FCS.

Smith is tops in the SoCon with four interceptions and leads ETSU with 66 tackles.

He’s one of 16 players added to the list during the season. Smith became the third ETSU player on the list, joining defensive end Nasir Player and safety Tyree Robinson.


This will be the 49th meeting in the series — dubbed the Blue Ridge Border Battle last year — and the Catamounts hold a 24-23-1 lead. Included in that total is ETSU’s 45-43 triple-overtime win last season.