The Maryville football team filed one-by-one into buses for the two and a half hour trip southeast to Walton Stadium, located on the campus of University of Central Missouri, for their neutral-site matchup against Blair Oaks.
However, the team seemed to have left their energy, and good luck, on the bus. Maryville’s sluggish start, having to leave nine starters back in Maryville and seeing starting quarterback Ben Walker get hurt, led to a dismal showing in the season debut.
The Falcons extended their winning streak against the Spoofhounds to three games Aug. 28, winning 51-8.
Blair Oaks (1-0) used its fast-paced offense to its advantage, leaving Maryville (0-1) in the dust. After a three-and-out to start the game for the Spoofhounds, it took less than four minutes for the Falcons’ quarterback Dylan Hair to find an open Jacobi Marble for a 5-yard touchdown. The missed extra point gave Blair Oaks a 6-0 start.
On the pursuing drive, the Spoofhounds looked to have found their stride. Senior quarterback Ben Walker connected with senior wideout Caleb Kreizinger for a 33-yard bomb, one that placed the Spoofhounds inside the Falcons’ 15-yard line.
However, disaster struck the Maryville offense. A collision in the backfield led to a fumble recovered by the Falcons, where it took a bleak moment for the Falcons to travel 85 yards for an eventual 15-yard touchdown run by senior running back Jayden Purdy.
Maryville’s next two possessions lasted a total of one minute 18 seconds, including another fumble. The Spoofhound defense saw both a 44-yard and a 25-yard touchdown come via the arm of Hair to pile onto the Falcons' lead.
Hair finished the night with 3 touchdowns passing and Purdy ran the ball into the endzone four times.
Maryville coach Matt Webb knew the dual-threat quarterback would be hard to control.
“He did a good job hitting tough passes tonight and running the ball,” Webb said. “We couldn’t make plays to get off the field and Hair had a lot to do with that.”
Not only were the Spoofhound offense and defense stalled throughout the night, but special teams also found itself not being able to capitalize.
On Walker’s sixth punt of the night, he used his rugby-style punt to try and pin the Falcon’s deep in their own territory. The ball had no airtime and was a straight bullet to Jake Closser, the return man for the Falcons. This allowed Blair Oaks to set up blocks, ones that allowed Closser to take it 48-yards to the end zone.
As the first half began to wind down, Maryville was once again ready to punt it back to the Falcons. However, Blair Oaks was ready for Walker’s rugby-style punt and sent a blitz. The blitz left Walker grabbing his left knee in the backfield, where the athletic trainer rushed to his side.
“You don’t really know his status until he goes through a doctor’s evaluation,” Webb said. “He’s heartbroken, but we’ll see where he can go after being examined.”
While the extent of the injury is unclear, Walker was able to limp to the Spoofhounds’ sideline under his own power. He did not return the rest of the game.
Down 44-0 at the midway point, the Spoofhounds found themselves scoreless through two quarters, similar to last year’s game against Blair Oaks. Last year’s deficit was 23 points at halftime. This year’s was nearly double that.
“I don’t really know what contributed to the slow start tonight, if I did I’d be a coach in the NFL,” Webb said. “They completed on third down and we didn’t. We have to be able to convert, move the chains and play process football.”
The second half began much like the first half. While Maryville had the Falcons on third-and-10, Purdy seemed to have been shot out of a cannon. Running straight up the gut, Purdy got past the maze of arms from Maryville’s defensive line to break away for a 40-yard touchdown. This would be the last score for Blair Oaks.
The backup quarterback for the ’Hounds, Drake Connor, got his moment of fame on his second possession of the season. Connor, behind the sticks on third down, rolled out to his left and threw the ball 10 yards downfield to an open Kreizinger. Kreizinger did a quick sidestep to avoid a Falcon defender and ran the ball 29 yards for the lone Spoofhound touchdown of the game.
With the running clock becoming a factor due to the score, the second half was 38 minutes long, which allowed Maryville three possessions.
While Walker’s injury is an area of concern for Maryville’s offense, nine other players missed out on tonight’s matchup against the Falcons. Webb was unable to go into specific detail on why.
“We live in a COVID time,” Webb said. “There are regulations that I cannot comment on why they’re out, but things are COVID related.”
And, after Maryville’s rough start to a new decade, everything came to an end.
Four turnovers, the starting quarterback getting injured and key players missing by Maryville never allowed the ’Hounds to show their true potential.
Maryville will host Harrisonville (1-0) in the ’Hound Pound Sep. 4 for the Week 2 matchup. Webb is hoping his players keep their heads up.
“We all get an opportunity to get better every day,” Webb said. “We’re gonna look at ourselves in the mirror and get a little bit better and look towards Week 2.”