The Maryville College Scots come into homecoming weekend on a high note after knocking off the USA South Athletic Conference’s top team last Saturday in Danville, Va.
Maryville coach Tony Ierulli said the week of practice before the 21-17 upset of league frontrunner Averett was what enabled the Scots to overtake the Cougars, then unbeaten in conference play. Ierulli said the Scots didn’t practice like a 1-4 team.
“You don’t win football games by just what you do on Saturdays, but preparation during the workday on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday,” Ierulli said. “That’s what gives you the opportunity to win football games.
“Sometimes, when you have a team that is 1-4, they start moaning and groaning. Divisions form within the team, and people start pointing fingers. That’s never been the case for this team. That allowed us to work very hard throughout the week and give us the opportunity to win on Saturday.”
However, the road for the Scots (2-4, 1-2) doesn’t get any easier. Maryville hosts the USA South No. 2 squad, North Carolina Wesleyan (3-3, 2-1), on Saturday at Honaker Field.
Kickoff is 2 p.m.
All Maryville games are available on streaming video on the internet at Knoxivi.com, in partnership with the Scots Broadcasting Network.
The Battling Bishops hit town fresh off a loss from Christopher Newport. Wesleyan enters with the USA South’s No. 1-ranked defense. Maryville enters a team wanting to finish strong a season hit hard by injury.
“It (Averett) was definitely a big win,” Maryville junior All-American receiver Wesley Idlette said. “It brings a positive atmosphere back to our team. Just having this win brings a different team that we haven’t seen throughout this season, and it’s going to prepare us for this week.”
Idlette is set for a big game and perhaps a milestone this weekend. After four receptions for 64 yards and a touchdown in the Cougar Den, Idlette is within 3 yards of the Maryville record of 1,976 for a career, the mark currently held by former Scot Zach Mendance.
“It’s definitely feeling good, especially (getting the record) at home,” Idlette said, “being able to have my family travel up and have this home atmosphere. The fact that we’re going to have old teammates that were on the team last year and a couple years prior come and support me and support this team is going to help as well.”
Freshman quarterback Dustin Williams also had a standout performance for the Scots last week. Pressed into service when senior and starter Tim Conner was lost for the year with a shoulder injury during fall camp, Williams dished out three touchdown passes while going 21-of-32 for 208 yards. Those stats helped the Jacksonville, Fla., native earn USA South Rookie Offensive Player of the Week honors, but Williams credited preparation.
“We prepared more than we ever had,” he said. “We had a totally different attitude in practice, and the scout team did a great job of giving us the looks. When it got to game time, they were everything we prepared for.”
While Williams credited the preparation, Ierulli said the offensive line should be given some accolades as well. On the season, Maryville has allowed 10 sacks for 52 yards, at least one sack every contest except for the Averett matchup.
“He (Williams) had very good protection,” Ierulli said. “We didn’t give up any sacks, which, a lot of times, allowed him to find that secondary receiver or for our primary receiver to get behind that defensive back so he could deliver the pass.”
Sophomore Kane Crowell also had a big night against the Cougars. The 6-foot defensive back broke up five Averett passes, four of them in the fourth quarter. Crowell stopped a third down and two fourth downs with his play, one breakup at the Maryville 7-yard line.
“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Crowell said. “Two of them, I was burnt pretty badly, but I’ve got to give credit to the defensive line. They got pressure on the quarterback really well, so I give the credit to them.”
“He played about as good of a fourth quarter I’ve seen in a long time from a player,” Ierulli said. “He played great in the fourth quarter, where he made big time plays. He had five pass breakups, which is very hard to do. They didn’t come on first or second down. Those breakups were on third and fourth down.”
Ierulli said the Averett win was definitely in the top two or three of his career, ranking with the Christopher Newport victory last year and the Wesleyan four-overtime victory a couple years ago.
Homecoming is always long on distractions. Ierulli said he’s hoping memories of last week will keep the Scots’ focus where it should be this week.
“That’s the first time that we’ve beaten the No. 1 team in the conference in a season,” Ierulli said. “To go to their place and overcome obstacles, it’s got to be in the top two or three wins that we’ve had.
“Homecoming, there are so many distractions. We have to just keep talking to our players. We reminded them the reason that we were successful was the great week of preparation.”