Hawks' final outburst outdoes Scots
By Marcus Fitzsimmons | (email@example.com)
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — After everything came so close to coming together for Maryville, it all fell apart.
Dylan Miller snagged MC’s desperate onside kick attempt out of the air and used an open field ahead for the final score in a wild ending.
Huntingdon College opened its 10th season with a 49-33 victory over the visiting Scots Saturday but needed 16 points in the final minute of play to avoid a third overtime game in the eight-game series. Tied at 33 with 2:33 remaining, Huntingdon overcame two potential drive-killing penalties — a hold that wiped away All-American Trevor Manuel’s reception inside the five and an illegal touch call on Ephraim Johnson for going out of bounds and back in that negated the senior’s scoring reception. Instead quarterback Neal Posey found Tyler Robinson for his fifth and sixth catches of the day on consecutive plays to put the Hawks up 40-33.
MC bobbled a snap trying to answer with less than 30 seconds remaining and had to roll the ball out of the end zone for a safety. Then Miller’s return capped the improbable scoring fest.
“We just needed to possess the ball and I’d have liked for him to have gotten down right there because we didn’t need any more points but that’s hard to do sometimes and he saw nothing but green grass in front of him,” Huntingdon coach Mike Turk said. “It was a much harder fought game than the final score indicates. We’re happy to get out of here with the win.”
Manuel proved the All-America status was more than just preseason hype, turning in 104 yards and three scores for the Hawks Saturday on the slightly slick artificial surface of Charles Lee Field at W. James Samford Jr. Stadium.
The effort countered the coming out party hosted by the Scots Blake Williams, who after recording on TD reception in 2011 quadrupled that total in his first game of 2012. The junior from Clinton finished with 125 yards on a game-high seven receptions while catching two touchdowns from both Maryville quarterbacks. Sophomore Eric Sisson got the start for MC but split the time with freshman Evan Pittenger. Sisson not only led the Scots in the air — going 15-of-26 for 192 yards — but also rushed for a team-best 57 yards. Pittenger gained 24 but lost 31 on several sacks and went 6-for-12 for 56 yards.
It was the little things that stacked up against Maryville as the Scots attempted to open the Mike Rader era with a win on the road against their new ball coach’s former school. Two sure scores disappeared as the passes to receivers so wide open that only the cheerleaders might have stopped them floated high and uncatchable. The combination of duties that wore down the MC players as the artificial surface under a 92-degree afternoon sun became slick and draining took its toll as well.
“I guess right now we were so close in so many ways, and there are so many things we have to get cleaned up that we shot ourselves in the foot at the end,” Rader said. “I know we’re young and all that, but we can’t use that as an excuse. We expect way too much out of these guys and they’ve worked so hard for it. Moral victories don’t get you anywhere, We have to come back and go to work on Monday, and I hope my leaders on this team step up and make sure that happens.”
The Scots (0-1) briefly led at 12-7 after Williams made his second scoring reception, but Manuel did the dirty work to put Huntingdon back in front. The teams went back and forth, the Hawks going ahead and Maryville answering until Tyler Robinson’s 57-yard punt return for a score started to show the cracks in MC’s special teams that let go so dramatically in the final minute.
“I knew they would be well prepared and well coached and would probably know us better than anybody else we’ll play,” Turk said of the Scots. “The biggest thing is we hung around there long enough to do just enough to win.”
Huntingdon meets Birmingham Southern next weekend while MC hosts Emory & Henry in a renewed rivalry for its home opener.