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Mitchell takes over QB duties for Bucs’ home opener

Joe Avento • Sep 7, 2019 at 10:30 AM

JOHNSON CITY — After opening the season as a big underdog, the role is reversed for the East Tennessee State football team.

The Bucs are the heavy favorites Saturday when they host Shorter in their home opener. Kickoff at Greene Stadium is set for 7:35 p.m.

Shorter, an NCAA Division II team, went 0-11 last season while allowing an average of more than 50 points a game. The Hawks have lost 39 straight games.

Still, the Bucs insist they’re not overlooking a seemingly overmatched opponent.

“I feel like it’s a natural thing to kind of look at stuff like that,” ETSU running back Quay Holmes said. “We have to be more disciplined in knowing that whatever level they are, whatever their name is, it doesn’t matter.

“Like coach said, we have to worry about doing our thing and worry about us. We can’t get too bought into whether it’s a D-II school or an FBS school. We just have to work on doing our thing.”

ETSU is coming off a season-opening 42-7 defeat at Appalachian State.

NEW QB

Trey Mitchell, a redshirt freshman from Knoxville, is set to make his first start at quarterback for ETSU. Mitchell entered the opener after starter Chance Thrasher was injured when he took a blow to the head and neck at the end of a run.

Thrasher is not listed on the Bucs’ depth chart this week.

In relief, Mitchell completed 12 of 19 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown.

“It was good to see Trey Mitchell step in there and do what he did and to see the moment wasn’t too big for him,” coach Randy Sanders said.

Cameron Lewis, another redshirt freshman, is Mitchell’s backup.

GETTING HIS KICKS

ETSU punter Garrett Taylor, a freshman from Murfreesboro, had a memorable first game. He averaged 43.8 yards on six punts, including a 53-yard effort, against Appalachian State.

“You don’t know how guys are going to react when the lights come on or when you put people in the stands,” Sanders said. “It was one game, knock on wood, but the guy probably punted it better in the game that he had in practice. Usually guys do better in practice than they do in the game.”

A LOOK AT SHORTER

This is the season opener for Shorter. The Hawks are coached by Zach Morrison, who is in his second year running the program.

Shorter quarterback Tyler Pullum threw for 1,856 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He’s a senior now and expected to lead a team trying to improve its standing in the Gulf South Conference.

Defensively, Shorter is led by junior linebacker Nehemiah Reddish, who compiled 70 tackles last season. He’s a hometown player, from Rome, Georgia, and was the only Shorter player on the preseason all-conference team.

This will be the fifth consecutive season in which Shorter has taken on an FCS opponent. Last year, the Hawks lost to Samford 66-9.

Shorter’s most recent win came in October 2015, a 42-23 decision against Mississippi College.

A loss Saturday would give the Hawks sole possession of fourth place for consecutive losses in the NCAA Division II record book. They currently are tied for fourth with Cheyney at 39.

Lockhaven holds the record of 52, set from 2008-12.

HOME, SWEET HOME

The Bucs averaged 8,436 fans per home game last season. That’s more than Greene Stadium seats.

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