The offense was one-dimensional yet again, but a lack of discipline buried Maryville College in a 31-13 loss to Averett on Saturday in Danville, Virginia.
The Scots committed 10 penalties for 97 yards, including five personal fouls, one of which prompted a fan in the stands to yell, “It starts with the head coach.”
“I said, ‘You know what, they’re right,’” Maryville coach Shaun Hayes told The Daily Times over the phone. “After the game, I told the team the same story and I said they were 100% right because I should have ran them all until they couldn’t even stand up at the start of the season.
“We thought we could treat them all like men who understood how to win because 90% of them have done it. I told them an hour before kickoff that some team would lose the game, and it was us.”
Saturday was an extension of what has been a season-long issue. The Scots (2-6, 2-3 USA South) entered play averaging 8.3 penalties and 74.6 penalty yards per game.
The players who were most at fault made it even harder to stomach.
Senior linebacker Jamal Ware committed four penalties, including two personal fouls, and senior offensive lineman Jaden Harris was ejected for logging two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
Harris’ first unsportsmanlike infraction turned what would have been second-and-7 on the Averett 9-yard line to second-and-21, forcing Maryville to settle for a 40-yard field goal instead of scoring a touchdown.
Three of the fouls Ware drew were of the 15-yard variety, and two of them helped Averett (6-2, 4-1) move the ball down the field during touchdown drives.
“Both of those guys are seniors and both of them are guys I met with on Monday and told them what I needed from them,” Hayes said. “That tells you that they hate to lose more than they love to win because they aren’t doing the simple things to put them in position to win football games.
“That’s on me for letting it get to a point where it’s too far gone.”
Penalties overshadowed Maryville’s inability to complement what has become a prolific rushing attack.
Sophomore running back Jacob Bunch rushed for 140 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries — his fifth straight game with more than 100 yards — but mustered 91 yards through the air.
The problem stems from a lack of a vertical passing attack that allows opposing defenses to play press man coverage and eliminate short-yardage passes.
Freshman wide receiver Connor Chandler caught the Scots’ lone pass of more than 20 yards, hauling in a 28-yard toss from sophomore quarterback Trevor Thomas in the third quarter during a possession that resulted in a field goal.
“The bottom line is when defenses leave you one-on-one, you have to make plays,” Hayes said. “That’s what we got (from Averett) throughout the course of the football game, and the only time we made a play is with Connor Chandler.
“We really struggled to complete any pass, and when you do that, you can’t be balanced, and that’s what we need to be.”
Maryville will attempt to right the ship when it returns to Honaker Field to celebrate Senior Day against Greensboro at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9.
“Every football game we’ve played this year has been tight because we find ways to hurt ourselves,” Hayes said. “We don’t understand what it takes and how hard it is to win a football game, and that’s been consistent throughout the year.
“I hope they compete and go out and play physical, play clean and play mentally sharp. That’s how they’ve won and that’s why they’ve made history here. They’ve done a lot of great things for this organization and I hope they go back to doing it the way they’re supposed to do it.”