MACON, Ga. (Oct. 15, 2022) – Even after multiple comeback attempts, the Bucs were unable to match the efficiency of a marching Mercer offense led by QB Fred Payton in a heartbreaking loss to their SoCon rival the Bears.
Hoping to ride the momentum from their win at VMI, the (3-3) ETSU Bucs traveled to Macon, Ga. to take on their SoCon foe, the (5-1) Mercer Bears.
In what started on a positive note for the Bucs following a forced fumble on Mercer’s opening drive, the Bucs would strike first and take their only lead of the game off of a 32-yard field goal by kicker Tyler Keltner (Tallahassee, Fla.) early in the first quarter of play.
Mercer would answer the Bucs on their following drive after a 25-yard pass from Payton, giving the Bears the lead that they would never give up.
On the following drive for the Bucs, things would continue to go south as Keltner would miss a rare field goal from 39-yards and set the pace for a Bucs offense that would struggle to find the end zone.
After Mercer extended their lead to 28-10 in the second quarter, the Bucs started to fire on all cylinders as they looked to mount a comeback scoring 10 unanswered points in the final six minutes of the first half to close the gap 20-28.
In the third quarter the Bucs looked to have found their rhythm, holding an electric Mercer offense to only one score while racking up two field goals themselves making the score 26-35. With a nine-point deficit entering the fourth quarter, the Bucs had Mercer right where they wanted them, but the Bears had other plans.
Striking early in the fourth quarter, Mercer would add three more points to their score on a short field goal to give the Bears a 38-26 lead, and this would only be the beginning of a nearly perfect quarter for Mercer.
The Bucs would find the end zone once in the quarter following a 37-yard touchdown pass by QB Tyler Riddell (Tampa, Fla.) to WR Isaiah Wilson (Norcorss, Ga.) to make the score 33-38 to bring the Bucs within five points once again.
Mercer would answer quickly and continue to build their lead.
Adding three more scores before the end of the game, Mercer would cap off their showcase with a pick-six late in the fourth on a Riddell pass to give the Bears a final score of 55-33.
The (3-4) Bucs will look to bounce back for homecoming week when the Samford Bulldogs come to town on Oct. 22. Kick-off is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
For more information on ETSU’s homecoming week and the Bucs football team, visit etsubucs.com/football.
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