In a game of inches the Scots were just that close
BY Marcus Fitzsimmons | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
It was just that close.
Despite MC rolling up almost as much offense as No. 30 Hampden Sydney or No. 7 Salisbury did in their wins over CNU Saturday, despite a balanced attack that topped 200 on the ground and in the air, despite a defense that held Christopher Newport to 32 passing yards, and even despite the presence of Blount Press Row’s now infamous orange shorts — the Scots didn’t get the win Saturday.
Four turnovers — three interceptions and an untimely fumble on a kickoff return — set up Christopher Newport with the opportunities to snatch opening USA South win from the mouth of monumental upset.
“We didn’t make them work for it,” MC coach Mike Rader said. “We’re fighting, I’m proud of the team for that. We’re getting there. We want it now. I can see it. The team can see it. There’s three plays in the game and we’re probably having a different conversation.”
It was just that close Saturday.
A chance to go to half tied died with a fumble. A chance to take control early died with the first interception. The second and third took away MC chances to tie and gave CNU short fields to cover to reestablish the two-score lead.
But despite the four wrongs, Maryville had a lot of rights.
They had to. Teams aren’t still looking at a chance to win in the fourth quarter against the hands down best team in the conference, year in and year out, if they aren’t doing a lot of things right.
The little miracles counted.
Evan Pittenger shouldn’t be remembered for the two picks he threw as much as the miracle machine he turned on when things fell apart. Two busted plays and two scores. The freshman quarterback turned an early and unexpected snap on fourth down into a sinking feeling for the Captains with the jaw dropping find of Travis Felder on the mad scramble to convert for the first. The total misread — and there’s no telling what was supposed to happen on the play — where Pittenger managed to elude the incoming behemoths and follow blocks that seemed in place for something else entirely to the 5 keeping the sweat pouring off the CNU brows.
The defense won series in inches stopping two CNU drives on fourth down. It won almost every time it had a chance. Of CNU’s seven scoring drives four started inside the MC 35. The other drives came from the CNU 48, 49 and the MC 47. Anything beyond 50 yards and the results was a Christopher Newport punt.
But not a turnover.
A couple potential picks fell off fingertips. A fumble rolled back into the CNU back’s arms.
In a game of inches, it really was just that close.
Marcus Fitzsimmons is sports editor at The Daily Times, who enjoys reading comments posted to this column at http://thedailytimes.com , follow him @TDT_Sports