It was for good reason.
Piling up 427 rushing yards, The Citadel rolled to a 45-10 victory over the Bucs.
The Bulldogs, ranked No. 5 in the latest STATS FCS poll, improved to 8-0 overall and 6-0 in the Southern Conference. The Bucs fell to 3-5 and 1-5, leaving coach Carl Torbush lamenting some of his team's missed assignments.
“Today, we made some boo-boos that cost us big time,” Torbush said. “If you get an option team and they get a run of more than 10-12 yards, you can pretty well be assured that somebody didn’t take care of their assignment. That kept us from having a chance to win the football game.”
It led to big numbers for Cam Jackson who had seven carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns, and Jordan Black who finished with 11 carries for 89 yards.
It is the best start in school history for The Citadel, only one of two remaining undefeated teams the Football Championship Subdivision. The Bulldogs can wrap up a second straight conference title with a win at VMI next Saturday.
Despite the margin, the Bucs were more competitive than some earlier games this season against Wofford, VMI and Chattanooga.
Quarterback Austin Herink completed 12 of 25 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown. He led the Bucs on two scoring drives and nearly on another.
“I thought we did some good things with our offense, but we’ve got to get better,” Herink said. “We left some things out on the field and it’s frustrating. There are some balls I would like to have back. They’re just a really good football team and it’s a good experience to go against a bunch that good.”
The Citadel gained an early advantage by scoring on its first two possessions.
Jackson’s 1-yard run capped off a six-play, 65-yard drive. Dominique Allen hit Jorian Jordan for a 5-yard touchdown pass the next time the Bulldogs got the ball.
It became a 21-0 lead just 49 seconds in the second quarter after Reggie Williams’ 11-yard run.
But the Bucs slowed them down for a brief period and Ryan Powers came agonizingly close to an interception with a clear field ahead of him.
When the Bucs got possession, they made the most of it. Herink hit Drake Powell on a 52-yard pass down the right sideline.
A few plays later, Herink lobbed a 3-yard touchdown pass to Haddon Hill to close it to a 21-7 margin.
The Citadel wasted no time in its response.
Jackson busted up the middle 38 yards for a score and a three-touchdown lead.
ETSU drove back down the field again, but the Bulldogs’ Dee Delaney intercepted a tipped ball intended for Powell at the goal line.
The teams traded field goals, a 29-yarder by The Citadel’s Cody Clark at the end of the half and a 22-yarder by ETSU’s J.J. Jerman in the third quarter.
The Citadel added two fourth-quarter touchdowns for the final margin.
Paul Hunter led the ETSU defense with 11 tackles and fumble recovery in the third quarter.
“We’re always going to fight,” Hunter said. “No matter how much we’re winning or how much we’re losing by, we’re going to fight. But when we made mistakes, they made us pay for it. We just have to bring the same intensity the next game.”
Dylan Weigel also had 11 tackles, while Powers ended with 10 tackles.
The Bucs finished with 253 yards and 12 first downs on the offensive end and only trailed by three minutes in time of possession.
But it was in the details where Torbush felt the Bulldogs separated themselves.
“They played hard,” Torbush said. “I told them after the game it had nothing to do with the effort. The ability to try to be physical and attack on both sides of the ball was there. We just didn’t make some plays and take care of some responsibilities and that’s on us. We’ve got to be more disciplined on alignments, assignments and make sure we do the job.”
The Bucs will try to do the job next week when they go on the road again at Mercer.