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Citadel football eager for a home game like no other in Bulldogs history


The Citadel quarterback Brandon Rainey (17) attempts to evade Clemson linebacker Keith Maguire (30) during the first quarter of their game Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020.

It will be a home game like no other in Citadel football history.

Attendance will be restricted to 3,081 spectators, including some 500 members of the Corps of Cadets. Fans will be seated in socially distanced "pods" at Johnson Hagood Stadium and required to wear face coverings.

There will be no cheerleaders, and no live crew of cadets to "fire those cannons" after the Bulldogs score.

And tailgating — a Citadel tradition that might draw more fans than the actual football game — is officially "discouraged."

Nonetheless, Citadel coach Brent Thompson and his players will take it.

"Especially in a year where we weren't necessarily expecting a home game," said Thompson, whose 0-2 Bulldogs will play host to 0-2 Eastern Kentucky at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Bulldogs' only home game of a four-game fall slate. "It's important for us to have a home game.

"It's an opportunity not just for our fans, but for the parents of our players to come out and enjoy what would normally be a Saturday in the fall. Or at least as close as we can get."

After the coronavirus pandemic wiped out much of the college football season — The Citadel and Eastern Kentucky are two of only 15 FCS schools playing a fall schedule — Citadel athletic director Mike Capaccio scrambled to put together a four-game slate. That included road games at FBS squads South Florida, No. 1 Clemson and Army West Point on Oct. 10.

Securing a home game was so important that The Citadel agreed to pay a guarantee of $100,000 to Eastern Kentucky to make the trip from Richmond, Ky. That's likely the largest guarantee ever paid by The Citadel for a visiting opponent.

For a Bulldogs team that's been outscored by 76-6 at FBS foes South Florida and Clemson, any sort of home game will be sweet. The game against Eastern Kentucky will be the first FCS vs. FCS matchup in college football since Aug. 29.

"We're really happy to be at home," said Citadel safety Sean-Thomas Faulkner, who is the Bulldogs' second-leading tackler with 19. "We love playing at home in front of everybody. But I don't think we think about who we are playing or what level it's on. We'll just prepare the same way we've done the last two weeks."

Things will look different at 11,500-seat Johnson Hagood Stadium due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

Cadet attendance will be limited to about 500, mostly freshmen. There will be no traditional march down Hagood Avenue to the stadium, and no cadet tunnel for the Bulldogs to run through before the game.

The Corps of Cadets, normally seated in 3½ sections of the stadium, will be socially distanced over five sections. Season-ticket holders and guests of players and coaches will make up the bulk of the crowd, and will be seated in socially distanced "pods" of no more than six people.

Attendance in the stadium's suites and club levels will be reduced by about half, with no viewing allowed from the Altman Center porch overlooking the field.

And as for the "discouraged" tailgating: The parking lots will not open until two hours before kickoff (usually it's four), and no tents are allowed. City of Charleston police will monitor the tailgating situation.

Eastern Kentucky received about 300 tickets for the game.


• Thompson said fullbacks Clay Harris and Logan Braucht, who missed the Clemson game with injuries, could be back for Eastern Kentucky. Citadel fullbacks have gained just 61 yards on 28 carries over two games, averaging 2.17 yards per attempt.

• The Citadel has 18 penalties for 138 yards in two games, an average of nine flags for 69 yards per game. Last year, the Bulldogs averaged six penalties for 55.8 yards over 11 games.

• A total of 51 Bulldogs played against Clemson, including seven true freshmen: DB Noah Alberry, DB Wilson Hendricks III, DB Anthony Bowen, DB Dominick Poole, PK Colby Kintner, WR Tyler Cherry and DL KJ Pierce.

• Former Citadel football standout Brandon McCladdie will be an analyst for Saturday's ESPN+ livestream of the game, along with play-by-play announcer Kevin Fitzgerald. McCladdie is a 2013 Citadel graduate and the director of athletic development at Davidson College.

Reach Jeff Hartsell at 843-937-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC

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