Turnovers let CNU escape MC
By David Cobb | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Junior Travis Felder could hardly walk up the stairs to the press box at Lloyd Thornton Stadium after his Maryville College Fighting Scots fell 45-31 to Christopher Newport in Saturday’s USA South conference opener.
The 5-foot, 6-inch junior accounted for 172 yards and three touchdowns, but unfortunately for coach Mike Rader, Felder had no control over the four turnovers that gave the visitors just enough help to escape Maryville with a victory.
“We played with them,” Rader said. “We just had four turnovers. We’re still so young in so many areas, we’re beating ourselves and that frustrating. It’s things that we can fix, things that we can control.”
In the second quarter, with both offenses struggling in a 10-10 ball game, a flurry of those frustrating things came at once for the Scots.
A line drive punt off the foot of Chasen Williams was fielded by CNU speedster Justin Williams and returned 38 yards to the Maryville 35. On the next play the Scots were whistled for a personal foul and suddenly the Captains were in the red zone with under three minutes to go in the half.
A chance to take a seven point lead into the break quickly turned into more for Christopher Newport.
Immediately following a 17 yard touchdown run by CNU’s Paul Dukes, Maryville’s Ed Johnson fumbled a kick return giving the ball back to the Captains in the red zone. They promptly scored for the second time in 56 seconds heading into the break.
Maryville didn’t panic.
“We’ve been in situations like that,” Felder said. “So when it happened this time, we just stayed behind each other and kept pushing.”
After stopping the Captains on a fourth down early in the third quarter, one of MC’s two quarterbacks, Eric Sisson, pitched to Felder in the backfield on a perfectly executed option play. The junior danced around a few defenders and walked in, making the score 24-17.
Dukes answered punching in his second of three touchdowns on the day, equaling Felder’s total, and making the score 31-17.
Not to be outdone, Felder found himself on the receiving end of a miraculous fourth down pass from Evan Pittenger that developed out of an errant snap.
The conversion was followed by a Maryville score, but in customary fashion Christopher Newport found a way to stay ahead.
A final effort by the Scots saw Felder score from a yard out to make the score 38-31, but an errant onside kick ended Maryville’s hopes.
“The kids are fighting,” Rader said. “We did some good things and bad things. We just got to continue to figure out what they can do and can’t do and make sure we put them in the spots to succeed.”
The game was Rader’s first in the USA South, a conference that Saturday’s opponent has won seven of the last nine years.
“It’s huge, in the USA South you have to win every game,” CNU coach Matt Kelchner said. “Our goal was to get the win, we came down and got it. How we got it I’m not pleased with.”
Rader, likewise, wasn’t pleased with the amount of turnovers and penalties committed by his squad, but he did have praise for his junior running back.
“He’s a load,” Rader said. “He brings a lot of stability. He’s a captain, and a captain for a reason. It was nice to have him back, it really was. He got hurt early in camp, and he’s just now where Travis can be.”
Maryville College heads to Greensboro next week for the first of back-to-back road trips in the USAC.