DANVILLE, VA. (WVLT/SUBMITTED) -- The Maryville College Fighting Scots football team took advantage of four Averett turnovers while pounding out 309 yards on the ground to earn a 31-7 road victory in Danville, Virginia on Saturday afternoon.
The Cougars lit up the scoreboard first when a punt and penalty gave them the ball at midfield late in the first quarter. A five play, 56 yard scoring drive concluded when Averett's Nathan Driver scampered 44 yards untouched into the end zone at the 1:29 mark in the first quarter. Following Ryan Ristaino's kick, Averett would take a 7-0 lead into the second quarter.
MC could not sustain a long drive that began the second period and Averett looked to capitalize on another long drive. Maryville's Ruben Rodgers stepped in front of a Brian Finney's pass and returned it to the Cougar's 30 yard line. Travis Felder recorded a long run and then plunged into the end zone from two yards out at the 9:09 mark. Kicker Jonathan Sykes split the uprights and the game was tied 7-7.
The Scots used a fast-paced, no huddle attack to challenge the Cougars just before the intermission. A 13 play, 70 yard drive saw strong running from Felder and E.J. Heard Hunt to get into scoring possession as the clock ran down. Penalties pushed MC backward, but Evan Pittenger connected with Daulton Graumann for a 14 yard touchdown with six seconds left. Sykes' kick sent Maryville to the locker room with a 14-7 advantage.
At the half, MC's Felder and Heard Hunt had accumulated 136 yards of rushing on 18 carries. MC's defense held Averett on their opening drive and the Scots would extend their lead on their first offensive opportunity. A seven play, 52 yard drive that featured a 14 yard sprint by Pittenger and a 22 yard dash by Felder stalled but senior Jonathan Sykes connected on a 33 yard field goal to give Maryville a 17-7 lead with 9:41 left in the third quarter.
The Scots' punter Chasen Williams pinned the Cougars deep in their own territory after MC's drive stalled at mid-field. Four plays later, MC's Gabe Johnson picked off Averett's Finney and returned it 15 yards for a score. Sykes' conversion gave the Scots a 24-7 lead with 4:38 remaining in the third quarter.
At the 10:18 mark, Averett put together a 10 play 52 yard drive that too over two minutes, but key stops by Dylan Wolfenbarger and Kane Crowell as well as a quarterback hurry by Jonathan Clark made the Cougars turn the ball over on downs.
Maryville would capitalize on the defense's momentum by marching down the field on their next drive. The eight play, 89 yard drive featured a 40 yard gain by Ed Johnson and a 14 yard touchdown dash by Chad Brooks. Sykes' kick gave Maryville a 31-7 lead with 5:15 remaining.
MC's defensive dominance continued on Averett's next drive. Senior Jacob Berwind hauled in a Martin Smith pass miscue for his third interception of the season. The Scots took over on offense with four minutes left in the game.
The Scots' ran out the clock to close the game. Maryville advances to 4-4 on the season and 3-2 in USA South challenges. Averett falls to 1-7 and 1-4 within the league.
Travis Felder accounted for 137 of 309 team rushing yard on 23 carries. E.J. Heard Hunt added 56 yards on the ground. The Scots' defense allowed only 178 yards on the ground, recovering a fumble and taking away three interceptions. Defensively, the USA South's leading tackler Dylan Wolfenbarger finished with 16 total tackles.
Maryville will return home to Honaker Field next weekend to challenge North Carolina Wesleyan. MC will honor their 14 seniors before the 1:30 kick-off.