JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - This game looked like a mismatch on paper.
It was on the field too.
Trey Mitchell was a perfect 10-for-10 for 123 yards and two touchdowns before leaving midway through the second quarter with an apparent knee injury.
By that time East Tennessee State was already up 25-0, and it never got better for Shorter, as the Buccaneers opened its home slate with a 48-10 rout of the Hawks on Saturday night at William B. Greene Jr. Stadium.
It wasn’t unexpected. Shorter, an NCAA Division II school from Rome, Ga., lost its 40th straight game, a streak that dates back to 2015.
“Any chance you get to come out and play with people in the stands and the band playing and the lights go on and you are playing in those home jerseys, you take advantage of it,” ETSU second year head coach Randy Sanders said. “There is much to be learned from those experiences.
“There was one game where we had to step up and we played one team that was kind of stepping up to play us. Now we are getting ready to play our peers. We just have to be ready to go.”
Mitchell returned to open the third quarter and promptly completed four more passes, leaving him one short of the school record for consecutive passes completed of 15 set in 2017 by Austin Herink.
His attempt to match that mark ended with an interception, one of the few times that the Hawks kept the Buccaneers from putting point on the board.
He still finished 14-for-15 for 173 yards and two touchdowns.
“At one point I actually thought about that, but I didn’t know what the record was,” Sanders said. “I thought he did very well. He seemed to see things well, he was throwing the ball accurately...
“I thought he did a nice job with what we asked him to do. He ran the offense very well.”
The 48 points was the most points scored by an ETSU offense since the program was resurrected in 2015.
ETSU (1-1), which lost its opener last week at Appalachian State 42-7, wasted no time taking command in this one, scoring 17 first quarter points and 25 in the first 16:52 of the game.
Tyler Keltner put the Bucs with a 40-yard field goal after ETSU forced a Shorter punt. Jacob Salyors would score from 12 yards, and Mitchell added scoring passes of 16 yards to Nate Adkins and 5 to Jamie Martin.
The pass to Martin came one play after Nasir Player recovered a Shorter fumble at the Hawks’ 16-yard line.
Keltner connected on two extra point kicks, and Mitchell added a two-point conversion pass to Player, who was the Southern Conference preseason defensive player of the year. He tied for the team lead in tackles with Colton Lakes with seven apiece.
ETSU out-gained the Hawks 385-80 in the first three quarters, with the Hawks held to negative-4 yards going into the final period.
Saylors paced the Bucs with 90 yards on the ground, while Quay Holmes added 71 on the ground and 30 receiving yards. Adkins had four receptions for 37 yards. Jordan Anderson added three catches for 39 yards.
Shorter (0-1) got on the board on the final play of the second quarter on a 36-yard field goal by Nicholas Pope. The Hawks added a score late in the game on an 8-yard pass from Aeneas Dennis to John Dietl III.
Dennis came off the bench to lead Shorter with 84 yards passing and 48 on the ground.
TSU, which punted once in each half, kicked the ball away on its opening possession of the second quarter, but scored three times to take a 41-3 lead into the final period.
Saylors broke through a huge hole for a 61-yard gain and scored from 3 yards out for a score. The Bucs also picked up a safety when a ballcarrier was tackled in the end zone, and they added another touchdown when Cameron Lewis, who replaced Mitchell at quarterback, dashed untouched 28 yards for another score.
Lewis also threw a touchdown pass with a 2-yard toss to Jordan Anderson in the final period.
It wasn’t all good for the Bucs. ETSU was called for 11 penalties for 124 yards, which will give Sanders’ squad plenty to work on this week as Virginia Military Institute visits Johnson City for the second of three straight home games on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
“We had way too many penalties,” Sanders said, “way too many mistakes.”