Maryville College's Evan Pittenger connected on a swing pass to Trenton Shuler late in the fourth quarter and the junior tailback from Maryville dashed 35-yards for the game-winning score as the Scots defeated Division I FCS foe East Tennessee State University 28-21 on Thursday evening in Johnson City, Tennessee.
The game-winning drive was set up with each team punting on seven of the first eight second half drives. On The Bucs second drive of the final period, Franchez Marshall recorded a sack to end the ETSU drive. During the ensuing punt, MC's Stevorious Kimball returned the punt to the Buccaneer 39, flipping the battle for key field possession. Following a few runs, Pittenger found Shuler for the score to secure the victory.
The game began with Maryville taking advantage of a Buc turnover. The Scots' Eric Benison recovered a fumble forced by Micah Smith as the home team just crossed their own 40 yard line. The Scots would march 39 yards on the next five plays ending on a 22-yard touchdown scamper by Shuler. Kyle Bennett's kick was good.
Trailing 7-0, East Tennessee State would answer with a sustained 13-play scoring drive that tallied 77 yards in over five minutes. Quarterback Drake Powell bulldozed his way into the end zone on a third down from the Maryville ten yard line.
Maryville's next possession was short lived. Pittenger attempted to hit a home run on the first play, but threw a long interception to Tavian Lott giving the Bucs the ball on their own 29 yard line.
Dalton Ponchilla took a triple option pitch 44 yards to the MC 25 before quarterback Austin Herink found Demetrius Anthony for a 17-yard TD via the air. The five-play, 71 yard drive took only 2:16 and gave the host a 14-7 advantage.
The Scots ended the first quarter down by seven, but drove to the ETSU 45. Shuler converted the 4th and one with a yard plunge to sustain the drive. MC went on to convert two more third downs during the drive to get to the Buccaneer seven yard line. Quarterback Nick Myers found tight end Ben Buell for his first career touchdown to complete the 15-play, 75-yard scoring drive.
The Bucs Nick Sexton decided to go for a homerun in their next possession only to be intercepted on the first play from scrimmage by Maryville's Da'Kelin Wells.
The Scots would capitalize and score ten plays later off the Buccaneer miscue.
A drive that featured a 28-yard dash by Desjion Whitlock and a pair of receptions by Michael Smith ended when Pittenger found Logan Winders in the corner of the end zone after scrambling out of the pocket.
Trailing 21-14, ETSU looked to pull closer to the Scots with a 10-play, 51-yard drive. MC's defense held the Bucs with key stops by their secondary and Zach Capehart. As ETSU's J.J. Jerman stepped to the line for a 39-yard field goal, Capehart, a pre-season All-American, split two defenders, hurdling another to block the kick.
Maryville could not capitalize on the next possession and the Bucs took advantage of the last 2:22 before the half.
A 15-yard pass from Sexton to Ponchilla and a 10-yard pass to Drake Powell kept the home team drive alive. Sexton scrambled for a 15-yard gain before hitting Ponchilla for a 20-yard TD strike. Jerman's kick completed the first half scoring leaving the game 21-21 at the intermission.
Both teams battled for field possession in the second half before Kimball's key return to set up the game-winning drive.
East Tennessee State (0-2) was led by Jajuan Stinson's 114 yards rushing. Stinson averaged 4.6 yards per carry in his 25 attempts. Quarterbacks Austin Herink and Nick Sexton combined for 149 passing yards while going 17-for-30 via the air. Drake Powell hauled in seven passes for a team-high 49 reception yards. The Bucs' defense was paced by Dylan Weigel's nine solo tackles and 14 total tackles.
Maryville (2-0) was paced by Trenton Shuler's 107 rushing yards and 56 reception yards. The duo of Nick Myers and Evan Pittenger combined for 174 passing yards while completing 15-of-23 passes. Michael Smith and Mario Williams combined for 75 reception yards on six receptions. Micah Smith was always around the ball finishing with a game-high 15 total tackles. Zach Capehart and Kent Minor each tallied eight stops.
The Scots will now prepare for their final non-conference challenge against Emory & Henry College in Emory, Virginia on September 19th.