Wasps, rain sting MC in opener
By Kelly Franklin | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A quick start by the Emory & Henry offense, coupled with Scots mistakes and a heavy rain that slowed both offenses, produced a damp and dreary loss in new Maryville head coach Mike Rader’s home opener.
The Wasps (2-0) scored on a precise, pass-oriented attack on their first possession and threatened to build a bigger lead early on, but the Scots defensive counter-efforts and the hard rain hampered the E&H attack after that first drive.
With a dry field, the Wasps looked extremely impressive after a short MC opener, moving crisply down field on 14 plays (twelve of those short passes), capped by a 5-yard TD reception by DaVon Ross from Kyle Boden.
Maryville (0-2) produced virtually nothing offensively in the first half, with sophomore starter Eric Sisson and freshman Evan Pittinger rotating behind center. Both quarterbacks suffered from poorly thrown balls and dropped passes when they were on target, as the Scots mustered only three first downs in the half.
The third of those first downs came after the defense had made a big fourth-down stop at their own 9-yard line. The MC offense couldn’t move, but a penalty against the Wasps moved the ball out to the 24, where just two plays later a fumbled snap was recovered by Wasp Scott Hill at the 21.
The defense held and the visitors missed a field goal attempt, but when the Scots took over at their 20 the offense went backwards with a penalty, two incompletions and a no-gain rush, then added a 15-yard face-mask penalty to a 15-yard punt return to set up the Wasps again near paydirt at the MC 26.
With time running out, Boden (18 for 31, two picks, 97 yards) hit Kasey Jones with a shovel pass to the 13 on a third-and-ten and the Wasps got seven more yards on a late-hit penalty. On another third down, Boden rushed the final yard and Matt Turchin’s extra point gave the Wasps a 14-0 lead with just 16 seconds remaining before halftime.
“That would have made a huge momentum shift in the game,” Rader said, “but in games like this and with the weather, it just comes down to a few snaps.”
Pittinger took control of the MC offense from midway through the second quarter, and after the break their offense showed more life, despite the soggy turf and incessant downpour. But Wasp punter Zach Nedzbala kept MC bottled in their end of Honaker Field, especially with a 67-yard effort that led directly to the next E&H score.
Operating from their own 12 after the booming kick and yet another penalty had totally reversed what had been an improving field position, the Scots picked up one first down before a short pass behind the line of scrimmage was fumbled, and after several bounces and near-grabs, picked up by Wasp linebacker Evan Williamson who lumbered four yards for a 21-0 Wasp lead with just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The Scots finally got points on the board with a safety after both teams traded possessions. Nedzbala had no chance to grab a high snap from center that sailed over his head and through the end zone.
The Scots defense also set up the final MC score as Kane Crowell picked off Boden’s pass and returned it 64 yards to the E&H 1-yard line. After two rushes, Pittinger’s lob to the corner was snared by Tim Foster for the TD. The two-point conversion attempt failed, yielding the final score of 21-8 with just over 11 minutes remaining. Neither team seriously challenged thereafter.
“I’ll praise our defense,” Rader said. “They came after (E&H). I just wish we could have executed some simple things early, when the weather was decent, and given our defense more support.”
Jamie Owen led the MC defense with 17 total tackles. Dylan Wolfenbarger added 15 and Joshua Krebs 11.
Maryville’s rushing attack mirrored that of previous campaigns, netting just 135 yards on 36 carries. Pittenger was 12 of 28 with one pick and a total of 74 yards.
Maryville will host Sewanee next Saturday with a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.