With a stadium filled to absolute capacity, the fences lined with fans and the surrounding grounds slammed with tailgaters, a huge stage was set for the Maryville College Fighting Scots to take on the LaGrange Panthers. The battle was for first place in USA South Atlantic Conference and each team showed tremendous heart and drive to the excitement of the many fans on hand.
Unfortunately, costly mistakes led to the Scots’ defeat, as the final score showed 17-13, LaGrange on top, but not all was a lost on this beautiful Smoky Mountain day. Homecoming festivities leading up to and surrounding the game led to an exceptionally large and diverse crowd gathered to support the Fighting Scots. There were many alumni present in the crowd, ranging from last year’s graduates to those celebrating their 50th anniversary as Maryville alum and everything in between. Many of these alumni look to the Homecoming football game as a great way to keep in touch with the college and show their continued support for their alma mater.
As Joe Thurston, a graduate from the class of 1951, said, “[The Homecoming game] has been a really fun thing. I got to see a bunch of buddies and some old running mates. It’s just been a bunch of fun.”
As for what was occurring on the field, many alumni expressed interest in the new coaching situation and were generally quite supportive of what they saw on the field. Former sportswriter for “The Highland Echo,” Louden Young, said, “Coach Rader is bringing some interesting things to the team that have been successful so far.” Head coach Mike Rader has been a center point for much discussion leading into the season for all fans of the program, and many people seemed quite content with the way the team is performing.
While LaGrange opened the scoring with a first quarter field goal, the Scots answered with a fumbled punt snap, recovered in the end zone for a touchdown by special teams player Mario Perone that served to swing momentum to the Scots side, and it stayed there for much of the first three quarters of play.
The Scots were very opportunistic in the first three quarters of play, scoring on the previously mentioned fumble recovery and capitalizing on an interception and another forced fumble to hold control of the game. With every positive play for the Scots, the crowd would erupt, leading to an infectiously positive atmosphere at the game.
Current Maryville student Louis Pecora, who is at every Maryville game as a part of his work-study, said, “I’ve never seen Mario run so fast in my life. Great job of pursuing the ball. There’s a lot of people here. It’s a full house and there’s a really great atmosphere.” Indeed, the excitement was evident with former Maryville cheerleaders leading cheers among their fellow alumni and the ever-faithful Maryville student section going wild at every turn of the game. Unfortunately, mistakes and turnovers in the final quarter of play proved to be too much for Maryville to overcome. However, until the very last play, a last-ditch hail-mary, the crowd stayed in the game, supporting their Fighting Scots.
As former Maryville cheerleader Fran Lantz, class of 1967, said, “I’m so pleased to see the tremendous effort of the team. We were really hoping for a hail-Maryville at the end, but it was a glorious day nonetheless. MC is in some of the most beautiful country in the world and it was great to watch how this team was inspired by their coach today.”
Lantz was leading cheers among her fellow alumni and helped to create the wonderful atmosphere that was present at the homecoming game. While the end result was not perfect, nearly every other facet of the day was, leading to a very pleasurable experience for Maryville College fans on homecoming day.
For an in-depth analysis, check out at the MC Scots website.