JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Sept. 1) – The Bucs kicked off their season with a 44-7 blowout victory over the visiting Mars Hill Lions on Thursday and extended their home opener streak to six consecutive wins in front of a sold-out crowd of 9,701 attendees.
The SoCon Offensive preseason Player of the Year, RB Jacob Saylors (Jasper, Tenn.) showed why he earned those honors in the first quarter of play with two rushing touchdowns and added another by air. The running back would pair his three touchdowns with 63-yards on the ground on 13 carries and his lone reception for 29 yards which resulted in a touchdown.
The team was quick to put points on the board after a 40-yard rushing touchdown by Saylors gave the Bucs an early lead that would continue to grow throughout the evening.
On their next drive, the Bucs special teams recovered a muffed punt when OLB Zach West (Boone, N.C.) was able to come up with possession following a three-and-out by the Bucs offense. Retaining possession kept the drive alive for the Bucs and gave them excellent field position to set Saylors up for his second score of the evening on a 29-yard pass by QB Tyler Riddell (Tampa, Fla.). Eventually adding one more rushing touchdown before the end of the first quarter, Saylors had three touchdowns in the first twelve minutes of play.
The Bucs would continue to build on their 20-0 lead when WR Will Huzzie (Duluth, Ga.) caught a spectacular pass by Riddell over a defender to put the Bucs up 27-0 in the second quarter. Just seconds later, Alijah Huzzie (Franklin, Ga.) would intercept a pass by Mars Hill QB Jimmy Urzua and return it for 38-yards and a score, giving the Bucs a comfortable 34-0 lead going into halftime.
It only took two possessions in the third quarter for the Bucs to strike again with a familiar duo. QB Riddell connected with Huzzie for his second receiving touchdown of the game, a career high for the WR.
Later in the third quarter, Mars Hill finally answered the Bucs and ended the shutout opportunity with a 5-yard pass by Urzua to WR Ty Snelson to put the Lions on the board. The Bucs answered with a 44-yard field goal to score what would be the final points of the game and put the Bucs up 44-7.
QB Tyler Riddell ended his day 14/19 passing with 197-yards, three touchdowns and one interception. WR Will Huzzie grabbed five receptions for 67-yards and two touchdowns as the Bucs moved to 1-0 on the season and 22-7 at home in Greene Stadium.
Looking to keep the momentum alive and defend the SoCon title, the Bucs will travel to face The Citadel in Charleston, S.C. on Sept. 10. Kick-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.
The game will be available on ESPN+, as well as live updates on etsubucs.com.
Two words. Six letters. Go Bucs!
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