In seven years, the Maryville College Scots won 28 games, but none as important as their last home challenge.
For the first time in seven years, the Maryville College football team was able to sing the Alma Mater on Honaker Field on Homecoming. A 45-22 victory over the Averett Cougars, breaking the seven year Homecoming drought.
“It feels like I’ve taken a big weight off my shoulders. Homecoming is so important,” said head coach Tony Ierulli. “We’ve had some really weird things happen to us on Homecoming, and for me, it was very discouraging because it was always with the biggest crowds.”
The last time the Maryville College Scots took a Homecoming victory was during 2004, Ierulli’s second year as head coach. During that season, the Scots took down the Centre College Colonels, 35-33.
Ierulli says there’s two reasons Maryville hasn’t been able to break the curse of Homecoming.
“We either have had the conference champs on Homecoming, and the other half of the time, we’ve just blown it,” Ierulli said.
On this occasion, the Scots didn’t blow it. Instead, they remained calm and poised in the face of many oppositions. In a game that saw 27 penalties combined for 221 yards, Maryville had to remember to keep their poise.
“Whenever we play Averett, it’s always a tough physical ball game,” Ierulli said. “I was kind of disturbed that a lot of late hits started going on.”
Of the seventeen penalties belonging to the Cougars, seven of those were personal fouls. With all of those late hits and such physical play, the Scots simply had to not retaliate.
“I’ve got to really commend our players,” a smiling Ierulli said. “They did a great job of not falling in the trap. It could have been really bad if we’d been doing a lot of retaliation.”
However, that wasn’t the only thing the Scots did good. In his starting debut, freshman Melvin Burston showed his bursting speed. On the day, Burston went 10-of-15 through the air, while pitching two touchdowns. The speedy quarterback added another 15 rushes for a total of 98 yards to lead Maryville in rushing.
“He was very exciting to watch,” Ierulli stated. “Melvin, I’d say about five or six times, made long runs on plays that weren’t designed for him to run. He got some pressure, or no one was open and he just took off. As a defensive coordinator, that’s the one thing you can’t defend consistently.”
Finishing with 209 total yards and three touchdowns, Burston proved that he’s ready to make a difference in the USA South. He said he’s just doing what his coach had told him to do.
“Coach told me that if I feel pressure to use my feet,” Burston said. “That’s just what I did.”
However, Ierulli credited the win to the seniors on the team. For four years, they’ve given their all without a Homecoming win, that is until their senior season.
Tim Foster, a senior and newcomer on the Maryville College squad caught both of Burston’s touchdown passes during the game. He was only in for two plays, both of them being touchdowns. He said he was just happy for the win.
“I’m just happy we got the win,” Foster said. “I felt like these seniors were working hard.”
“Those guys deserved it. I told them, if we win Saturday, that’ll be the best thing they’ve done in a long, long time. I’m glad they were able to do that.”