Maryville College's Nelson Smith picked up his second USA South Rookie of the Week mention this season, as the first-year quarterback led the Scots to a 34-9 victory over Methodist University on Saturday.
Smith was 15-of-22 passing for 180 yards and a pair of touchdowns, as the freshman held a .682 completion percentage.
"He's getting better," Head Football Coach Shaun Hayes said. "He's got a long ways to go. He's being decisive. Even though he may not be going to the right spots sometimes, he's being decisive. When you do that, those split seconds when you're not going where it's designed to go are critical. It's allowed him to make some plays for us in the passing game and with his legs because of how versatile he is. If he was not decisive, it could be going the other way, and we wouldn't be having this conversation. I've seen a lot of growth."
The Goodlettsville, Tenn. native added 22 yards on four carries across the ground to average 5.5 yards per carry against the Monarchs.
Smith led Maryville 31 unanswered points in the game, as the Scots outscored Methodist, 24-0, in the second half.
On Maryville's first scoring drive, Smith went 2-for-4 for 27 yards off the 36-yard drive. He found Marcus Pierce for 11 yards to set up an Ian Hubbs' 25-yard field goal for a 3-3 tie in the first quarter.
The Monarchs scored with 2:49 left before the half to take a 9-3 lead. Michael Bailey – the USA South Special Teams Player of the Week – blocked the extra point to allow Smith to give Maryville the lead before the half.
The first-year signal caller led MC on an 11-play, 71 yards drive before finding Clayton Ogle from 10 yards out as time ran out. Smith went 4-for-6 on the drive for 45 yards through the air, while posting 9 yards on a pair of carries. That touchdown gave Maryville the lead for good.
"There were a lot of things that were easily designed for him," Hayes said. "We threw some screens, and we still ran the ball well. He got out of the pocket, which he's comfortable with. The play that we scored on, he actually went to the wrong side. Half a second later, it probably would have been a pick six. The thing is – that's what I love about this team – is we need to be aggressive and play aggressive. No matter what, the other side is going to pick the other side up. I know how much ability he has – he's a really, really good football player – and he's a great person. As a coach, you just want them to understand it all, just like you do. I'm just anxious and excited for him to know all the facets of our offense."
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound quarterback led the Scots' to his second passing touchdown of the game with 10:41 left. The seven-play, 75-yard drive was capped with a 4-yard toss to Juwan Hill for the 20-9 lead. Smith went 4-of-5 for 65 of the 75 yards, as he had his longest completion of the day with a 39-yard connection to Mac Seagle.
In his freshman campaign, this Beech High product has led the Scots at quarterback. He holds a .649 completion percentage, as he's gone 63-of-97 for 671 yards. Smith ranks fourth in the USA South with six touchdown passes while averaging 134.2 yards per game through the air.
Smith has also added 91 yards across the ground on 35 carries. He has a pair of rushing touchdowns for a total of eight scores through his first five collegiate contests.
Smith will lead Maryville into a weekend USA South bout with LaGrange College on Saturday, Oct. 20. Kickoff in LaGrange, Ga. is slated for 1 p.m.