Last updated: August 30. 2014 12:23AM - 1599 Views
By - lmartinez@civitasmedia.com - 910-506-3170

Senior Brandon McMillian covers the football after the game-clinching interception with 12 seconds left. The Fighting Scots committed four turnovers and did not force any until McMillian's interception in the Scotland redzone. Tyquan Ingram (44) celebrates the close victory.
Senior Brandon McMillian covers the football after the game-clinching interception with 12 seconds left. The Fighting Scots committed four turnovers and did not force any until McMillian's interception in the Scotland redzone. Tyquan Ingram (44) celebrates the close victory.
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LAURINBURG — After cruising to an one-sided win last week at South View, Friday night's affair at the Boneyard was anything but easy for Scotland as they held on to defeat Jack Britt 20-14 in Fayetteville Friday night.
As good as the Fighting Scots looked last week, the team was bound to come back down to earth. But they almost crash-landed in the fourth quarter after a string of mishaps nearly cost the team the victory. Despite what coach Richard Bailey called an “ugly win,” he is grateful that the team came out ahead in the end.
“My biggest thing is that we came out with the win,” Bailey said. “I'd rather learn winning than a tough lesson after losing.”
Scotland struck first, as junior quarterback Dashaun Ferguson carried the momentum from his stellar play last week and connected with junior wideout Willie Douglas for a 34-yard touchdown pass with 4:42 left in the first quarter. Ferguson performed a good pump fake that caused the corner to hesitate just enough for Douglas to break free and stride in for a score. But it was the last time the Scots would score in the first half, as the Jack Britt defense bottled up Ferguson, tailback Quadrin Williams and the rest of the offense.
The Scots' defense picked up their play as a result, and the Buccaneers had trouble moving the ball themselves. Jack Britt was able to get into field goal range just before halftime, but kicker Atilla Kurt missed the 31-yard attempt and Scotland was able to preserve their 7-0 lead going into the half.
Linebacker Tyrek Smith forced a Jack Britt fumble to open the second half and defensive back Trayvon Gibson recovered it, resulting in a huge momentum swing. Quadrin Williams capitalized on the turnover and ran in for a 15-yard touchdown to put the Scots ahead 14-0 and at that point it looked like their defense would seal the win from there.
But the Bucs responded later in the 3rd quarter, as tailback Curtis Wells scored on a 2-yard touchdown run to close the score to 14-7. Scotland turned the ball over on their next possession — an ominous sign of what was to come in the 4th quarter for the team — when Ferguson mishandled a high snap. As Bailey mentioned, when one negative play happened it spiraled into several other mishaps.
“It was one of those things where if it could go wrong it went wrong,” Bailey said. “It kind of snowballed on us…they were good on defense but we had chances. But we'd fumble, we'd overthrow it, we couldn't keep drives alive.”
Despite the offensive miscues, the Scotland defense stepped up and forced a punt after the Ferguson fumble.
Scotland broke through the Jack Britt defense with 2:45 left in the 3rd quarter when Ferguson atoned for his earlier mistake and scored on an 11-yard touchdown run. The extra point was blocked, however, and Scotland went up 20-7.
Entering the 4th quarter, it looked as if Scotland would safely secure the win. The defense kept making plays when it had to and refused to allow Jack Britt to mount a comeback. But the Scots' offense kept giving the Buccaneers chances, as Quadrin Williams fumbled with 10:36 to go, then on the next drive Dashaun Ferguson threw an errant pass on a screen play that was intercepted. Linebacker LJ Melvin took off after catching the ball and outran the entire Scotland team before Williams caught and tackled him just as he reached the endzone. A Jack Britt crowd that was largely quiet for most of the second half was suddenly in a frenzy.
It only got worse for Scotland as Ferguson threw another interception on the team's very next possession on a ball that was tipped at the line of scrimmage. Jack Britt had the ball with 6:09 left and chance to take the lead, but Scotland's defense again rose to the occasion as they blew up a screen pass on 4th and 2 to give the ball back to the offense with 4:05 to go.
Scotland's offense could do nothing with it, but a clutch punt by senior punter Ben Utter forced Jack Britt to start on their own nine yard line. The Buccaneers then orchestrated their best drive of the game, converting multiple third and fourth down conversions as the team entered Scotland territory. Buccaneers' quarterback Bryan Bryant picked his spots, running when he needed to and throwing quick and efficient passes.
But with 12 seconds left, he made a costly mistake as he threw the ball right to Scotland linebacker Brandon McMillian. McMillian dove and caught the ball, and after the play was ruled dead he stayed on the ground, covering the ball as linebacker Tyquan Ingram and the rest of his teammates engulfed him with happiness, and relief, that the team had narrowly escaped from a near-meltdown.
McMillian said he moved to that spot on the field for matchup purposes, and he rewarded the team with the biggest play of the game.
“Coach just saw there was a faster receiver on the other side and he knows I'm the fastest of all the linebackers, so he switched us,” McMillian said. “I acted like I was going to blitz because I hoped I would bait him into throwing it which he did and thank God from there.”
Bailey said he had a pretty good guess as to where the ball was going to be thrown, and the gamble paid off.
“We kind of knew who their best receiver was and we were trying to get coverage to him on that play,” Bailey said. “That was the only play we moved [McMillian] over there and he intercepted it.”
The Scotland defense came into the year knowing it would need to perform well after the injury to star quarterback Jaylend Ratliffe. On nights like this, when the offense struggled to find its groove, Bailey can turn to McMillian and the rest of the defense and feel comfortable knowing they can get the job done. McMillian said he has faith the offense will rebound and he spent time talking to several players on the sideline encouraging them that better days are ahead.
“We knew we had to step up ever since Jaylend went down and when we saw them turning it over, I just told them boys to keep your head up.”
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.

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