Bunch's 177 yards rushing, touchdown earns USA South Player of the Week honors

Bunch's 177 yards rushing, touchdown earns USA South Player of the Week honors

Maryville College's Jacob Bunch earned USA South Player of the Week honors this week, after the sophomore rolled up 177 yards rushing against No. 18 Centre College.

Bunch followed the Scots' offensive line that boasted 329 rushing yards on the game, as MC averaged 6.7 yards per carry.

"It's the one we've all been waiting to see," Head Coach Shaun Hayes said. "Coming out of high school, he was, in my opinion, one of the better recruits that I've ever signed here as an assistant or a head coach. I've known him for a very long time, and this past week, we sat down and talked. We challenged him, and boy, did he answer it. If you look at those 177 yards, I would say 75 of them are after contact. There's probably 15 to 20 broken tackles, and the speed is back. If he hadn't cramped, he would have housed the other one. He deserves it. He's a great kid that does it right. He cares, and he plays unselfish. He's got to stay consistent in doing that for us now."

Bunch tallied his first touchdown of the 2019 season, and the third of his Orange and Garnet career against the nationally-ranked squad, as fellow back Kris Hawkins was named the USA South Offensive Rookie of the Week.

Bunch averaged 11.8 yards per carry for his 177 yards on 15 attempts.

On the day, this Bean Station, Tenn., native posted six runs of 10 or more yards, including a trio that bested his career mark from the 2018 season. Last year, his long was 15 yards.

He had runs of 18, 31 and 59 on Saturday against Centre College.

The sophomore back was key in a late first-quarter drive. He went for 31 yards to the Colonel 16-yard line on the first play, before going 8 yards on the drive's third carry. That rush set the Scots up at the Centre 5-yard line, before he opened the second quarter with a 5-yard touchdown jaunt.

The run gave the Scots an early lead, 16-0, at the 14:53 mark of the second quarter.

Bunch added another key run late in the fourth quarter, as he attempted to give the Scots the lead. His career-long 59-yard rush put the Scots on the Colonel 34. However, Centre stood strong to force a turnover on downs late.

"He's always going to be a yards-per-carry guy because of his size, his body length, and he falls forward," Hayes said. "I think he was averaging 11 yards per carry in the first half, and he ended up with 177. If you have that ability on a first down call to get 8 yards per carry, then on second and short, it opens the entire offensive playbook up. Jacob is able to take plays that are not necessarily called great or average, and he can turn those into 3 or 4 yards. That's where that number comes from. He always gets more than what's just there."

On the year, Bunch has averaged 103 yards per game on the ground. He's posted an 8.6 yards per carry average, while score a touchdown on 24 carries. He currently leads the Scots in all rushing marks, while falling just behind Hawkins in yards per carry.

In his eight games played for his career, Bunch as 381 yards and three touchdowns. He's averaging 6.8 yards per touch over that span.

The sophomore back looks to lead the Scots this weekend, as Maryville hosts Hanover College on Honaker Field. Kickoff for the non-conference game is slated for 1:00 p.m.