The Maryville College defense sacked one of the nation's leading quarterbacks on six occasions and allowed only 64 total rushing yards en route to a 48-17 Homecoming victory over LaGrange College on Saturday afternoon on MC's historic Honaker Field.
The Scots took the opening drive and marched 67 yards on 11 plays, but a 31 yard field goal attempt by Wesley Bloeme hit the left upright and LaGrange looked to capitalize.
One of the nation's top offenses promptly dashed 77 yards on 16 plays, but a key stop by Kent Minor and Joshua Krebs followed a sack by Zach Capehart and Krebs pushed the Panthers back to only field goal range. Will Jeffcoat connected from 20 yard away to give LaGrange a 3-0 lead with 3:44 left in the first quarter.
The Scots would answer with a quick strike score.
MC used an Evan Pittenger 26 yard dash and a pass strike from Pittenger of 38 yards to Ed Johnson to get on the Panther doorstep. Trenton Shuler took it to the house for a four yard score. The conversion snap was high and failed, so the score at the end of the first quarter was Maryville 6 and LaGrange 3.
MC's defense was strong at the beginning of the second quarter and the offense fed off their momentum. Maryville's Nick Myers took over for a series as quarterback and took the Scots 70 yards on eight plays for another score. A 14 yard rush by Raekwon Neal and a 39 yard jaunt by Trenton Shuler once again put the Scots in striking distance. Myers took the plunge into the end zone and Bloeme made the kick to give MC a 13-3 advantage with 11:47 before the half.
LaGrange put a scare into the capacity Homecoming crowd by answering with a 12-play, 70 yard score on their next series. Graham Craig found Griffin Roelle on a third and 11 for a 20-yard TD pass and a Jeffcoat conversion made the score 13-10 on just over three minutes of possession.
MC's Stevorius Kimball returned the next kickoff 52 yards to LaGrange territory to set up the Scots next score. Strong rushing by Raekwon Neal set up a 21 yard touchdown pass from Pittenger to Ed Johnson on a fourth and one. Bloeme's kick put Maryville up 20-10 with only five minutes left before halftime festivities.
The Panthers would not go quietly. A 16-yard pass and a 26-yard run put LaGrange in Maryville territory. A 13-yard pass and a 14-yard dash gave LaGrange the ball on the three yard line. Seqouh Humes scored on a three-yard dive and Jeffcoat completed the conversion to pull the Panthers to within three 20-17.
With only 1:40 left before the intermission, MC's Chris McKenzie returned a low kickoff 52 yards to the LaGrange 21 yard line. Pittenger connected with Johnson for a 12-yard pass. A Trenton Shuler seven yard scamper loosened the defense for back-to-back receptions from Pittenger to Johnson culminating in a three-yard touchdown reception pass. Wesley Bloeme's kick made the score 27-17 at the half.
The second half featured three Maryville score, but the Scots defense pitched a shutout of one of the best offenses in the NCAA Division III with constant pressure on the quarterback.
Following a defensive stop on LaGrange's opening drive, Maryville used a 33-yard reception by Maurice Walker to set up a 13-yard touchdown pass from Pitenger to Anzelo Scullark to make the score 34-17.
LaGrange had four additional series in the third quarter without lighting up the scoreboard. As the final quarter began, Maryville led 34-17.
The fourth quarter began with a 14 yard run by Evan Pittenger, a 10-yard run by Raekwon Neal, a nine yard pass reception by Anzelo Scullark, and a 23-yard dash by Trento Shuler. Pittenger promptly capped the eight play, 77 yard scoring drive with a two-yard touchdown dash around the right side. Bloeme's kick made the score 41-17.
Maryville's defense stopped the Panthers on their final two drives while MC put together a 10-play, 54 yard scoring drive for a final score. Eddie Brock found the end zone from four yards out and Wesley Bloeme's PAT gave MC the 48-17 Homecoming win.
LaGrange (3-2, 1-2 USA South) was led by Graham Craig's passing. Craig was 23-for-49 for 257 yards. Griffin Roelle hauled in nine passes for 67 yards and a touchdown. Scott Chewning and Larry Murdock led the Panther defense with nine tackles each.
Maryville (3-2, 2-1 USA South) had 299 rushing yards. Trenton Shuler had 142 yards on the ground on 17 carries while Raekwon Nean added 71 yards on 16 carries. Evan Pittenger was 10-for-17 via the air for 161 yards while connecting for three touchdowns. Ed Johnson brought down six passes for 83 yards including a pair of touchdowns. The Scots defense allowed only 64 rushing yards on the day and sacked the quarterback on six occasions while creating 19 quarterback hurries on the afternoon. Da'Kelin Wells paced the defense with seven tackles with Micah Smith, Tyler Todd, Gabe Johnson, and Josh Krebs each adding six stops. Jonathan Clark had three tackles, a pair of sacks, two pass break ups, and four quarterback hurries for the game. Patrick Cronin also added three tackles and a pair of sacks to go with his three quarterback hurries.
The Scots will now prepare to travel to Ferrum College next Saturday for a key USA South challenge. Kickoff is slated for 1:00 in Ferrum, Virginia.