The scoreboard didn’t tell the story.
Maryville College suffered a 31-10 loss to No. 16 Berry on Saturday, but there wasn’t much disappointment surrounding Honaker Field.
Fifth-year senior defensive lineman Trenton Cumby told coach Shaun Hayes he felt like the Scots were ahead of schedule in comparison to last season’s historic USA South Athletic Conference championship team.
Hayes had a gut-feeling earlier in the week that they would play well and for the most part, he was right, but it wasn’t enough for him to be quite as positive.
“I think we are ahead of schedule because we’ve learned how to compete, but there are a lot of people out there that will compete,” Hayes told The Daily Times. “We have to learn how to win. That team last season learned how to win, and then they expected to win.”
A span of 14 minutes, 29 seconds was the difference between a third loss to Berry (1-0) by three touchdowns or more in a calendar year and a potential upset.
Sophomore quarterback Nelson Smith delivered a pair of dimes to sophomore wide receiver Austin Burke to draw Maryville (0-1) even with Berry to begin the second quarter, but it was the last signs of life the offense would show until midway through the third quarter.
The Scots ran 13 plays over their next four offensive possessions for nine yards and failed to pick up a first down on any of those series. The Vikings scored three touchdowns during that stretch, turning a tie game into a rout in what seemed like the blink of an eye.
“The whole game we were getting what we wanted to get, but the difference between us and them was explosive plays,” Smith said. “We were one or two plays away from pushing it to be a better ball game, especially going into the half.”
Maryville ended a quarter-long drought without moving the chains with a 14-yard pass from Smith to senior wide receiver Pierre Watkins, igniting a 13-play, 55-yard drive that stalled in the red zone and ended with a 32-yard field goal by senior Ian Hubbs.
It proved to be more of an anomaly than a rebirth.
The Scots squandered a pair of opportunities to get back in the game after Berry turnovers in the third quarter, responding to an interception with one of their own and going three-and-out after a Ronald Eckles fumble recovery.
The defense continued to do its part, limiting Berry to 73 yards over its final five possessions, but Maryville mustered four yards over the same span.
In total, the Scots logged 197 total yards, 154 of which came on their opening possession and their two scoring drives. Those three series accounted for 18:32 of Maryville’s 35:22 time of possession, the rest of which was derailed by penalties and schematic problems that Berry’s defense creates.
“We have to look at the film, see what we did wrong and coach it up Monday,” senior offensive lineman Kyle Larson said. “When we’re out there moving the ball, everything felt right, but we were just getting different looks, twists and blitzes that we weren’t used to.”
The Vikings racked up 308 total yards, including three plays of 25 or more yards, while the Scots spent most of their afternoon in a malaise. Preseason All-American wide receiver Mason Kinsey was a force, hauling in seven catches for 103 yards and three touchdowns.
Maryville will go back to the drawing board and attempt to grasp that winning mentality before next week when the Scots visit Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.
“We’ve been talking about how this isn’t going to define our season win or lose,” Larson said. “We’re just going to keep coming, and I think this was good for us. I got nothing but respect for them, and you can’t win them all, so we’ll take this loss and move on with it.”