As Maryville football coach Matt Webb broke the team’s postgame huddle, the entirety of the Maryville football team stormed the end zone. The stadium lights at the ‘Hound Pound glared off of a rustic, dinged-up street sign that was hoisted above the players’ heads. For the ninth year in a row, the Highway-71 trophy was staying in Maryville, Missouri.
In a matchup that was full of conference implications, as well as bragging rights between two cities 30 minutes apart, Maryville (6-1) secured its sixth straight win by outlasting MEC rival Savannah 28-14 Oct. 18.
“I’m ecstatic,” Webb said. “When you grow up in either one of these communities, you remember these games. It’s bragging rights. … This is one of those that you remember.”
The win over the Savages gave Maryville at least a share of a MEC title with an opportunity to outright win the conference when it plays host to Lafayette Oct. 25. Among other things, the game marks 64 consecutive wins in the ’Hound Pound, it also gives Webb his 99th career win at the helm of the Spoofhounds.
A first-quarter that was plagued by stalled drives was eventually halted when the Spoofhounds were able to crack the code when junior running back Trey Houchin was able to find the end zone from 2 yards out. It wasn’t until 1:38 remained in the quarter when the run from Houchin put Maryville ahead of Savannah 7-0.
The Savages, who were 3-for-6 on fourth-down conversions against the Spoofhounds, saw their first failed attempt at extending the chains on their first possession of the second quarter. An incomplete pass via the arm of senior quarterback Chase Spoonemore gave the ball back to the Spoofhounds inside their own territory.
All of two plays later, the Maryville offense found itself on Savannah’s 35-yard line.
All of six plays later, the Maryville offense found itself with a 14-0 lead.
Via the legs of senior running back Connor Weiss, an 8-yard touchdown extended the Spoofhounds’ lead to two scores.
“We were just sticking to what we know,” Weiss said. “Just dominating, doing what we can do.”
A lone touchdown for Savannah in the first half came courtesy of an interception returned for a touchdown when ’Hounds’ junior quarterback Ben Walker had a pass deflected and return by Savannah’s senior defensive lineman Caden Atoe.
On the ensuing drive, Savannah again failed to convert on fourth down, this time setting the Maryville offense up with 78-yards to go with over five minutes to go in the first half.
Two plays after the turnover, senior running back Aiden Cullin dashed to the end zone to give Maryville an eventual 21-7 lead at the break.
The 14 point difference marked the closest point spread for the Spoofhounds at any halftime to this point in the season. The previous closest came in Week 1 when Maryville trailed Blair Oaks 23-0 at the half.
“I think our kids came ready to play,” Webb said. “They did a great job during our bye week last week and there was no letdown. I answered a lot of questions like, ‘Oh are you going to start off slow?’ No, our guys are ready to play.”
Maryville’s seemingly effective gameplan from the first half carried over to the second.
After a score from Savannah, the Spoofhounds answered back with a 35-yard touchdown on a fourth-down conversion of their own. Walker’s pass found its way into a Spoofhounds’ hands this time, junior tight end Marc Gustafson, to give Maryville the last score of the game.
With the MEC title within reach with a win over Lafayette, it’s time for Maryville to be selfish, Webb said.
“Now is the time to be selfish and want to win an outright MEC championship,” Webb said. “You don’t want to tie it, you want to be selfish and go win it as a team and it’s okay to be selfish when you’re trying to win a MEC championship.”
The recipe for Maryville’s current six-game win streak has been to play great defense and run the ball, just like good football teams do, Webb said. In a game that meant more than most given the implications, Weiss said, it was nice to send the seniors home with a win on Senior Night.
“Every game against Savannah is a playoff game,” Walker said. “Highway-71 trophy, nothing like it.”