CHARLOTTE — The Fighting Scots went back their roots on Friday — smash-mouth football.
The Scots playbook was skinny, hand the ball off to senior running back Zamir White and junior Shyeam “Smiley” McQueen or mix it up and have quarterback Warren Bell pitch it to the outside.
The plays, like Novocaine, just took time to set in before they became effective.
The Scots marched down the field and capped their first drive with a two-yard touchdown run by McQueen. A penalty on the extra point forced a re-kick and Scots kicker senior Tripp Wells missed his mark wide left. The touchdown by McQueen gave the Scots a 6-0 lead.
“In a pretty hostile environment I think this is a statement win for us,” said Scots head coach Richard Bailey. “”A lot of people didn’t think we could come down here and do this. Carolina Varsity had us picked to lose by 22, that’s by a computer but they need to throw that computer out. We were only picked on the other sites to win by four. They have a scary football team, offensively they are unbelievable but our defense played a heck of a game.”
Following the Scots opening touchdown drive, West Mecklenburg led by quarterback J’mari Taylor methodically marched the ball down field, but the Scots defense bent but didn’t break and held the Hawks to a field goal.
The first quarter ended with the Scots leading 6-3. McQueen found the end zone a second time half way through the second quarter — carrying West Mecklenburg defenders on his back into the end zone. The Scots offense then decided to have fun and throw in a trick play on the two-point conversion.
The Scots ran the and around with White, Bell and McQueen.
McQueen found Bell in the end zone from two-yards out to make it a 14-3 Scots lead.
West Mecklenburg then took a hit on offense when Taylor went out in the second quarter with an ankle injury. The Hawks put senior Hasani Sneed in under center. University of North Carolina commit Dyami Brown found the end zone from 10 yards out to make it a four-point game.
The Scots offense then connected on their own touchdown pass of the game, a run-pass option play from Bell to Khalil Smith put the Scots back on top, 20-10 with just under two minutes left in the half.
Scots senior defensive back Davon Ratliffe ended the half by sacking Sneed.
“Davon Ratliffe was unbelievable — I’ll go ahead and tell you he’s the player of the game,” said Bailey. “He’s very deserving, but we played great across the board.”
West Mecklenburg came out throwing in the second half and the Scots defense made them pay. Senior Leron Quick came up with the secondary’s first interception of the season. The Scots offense was forced to punt on a stalled drive at the 26-yard line.
The Hawks again couldn’t find the end zone and settled for a field goal to make it a seven-point game, 20-13 with just over five minutes left in the third quarter.
On the Scots second possession of the third quarter, White took the ball 68 yards down the sideline for a touchdown. The two-point conversion pass from Bell to senior Trey Dixon was broken up to give the Scots a 26-13 lead.
West Mecklenburg kept the game close as Sneed found wide receiver Tyler Barnes in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown to make it a six-point game, 26-20 — which is the score the two teams would take into the fourth quarter.
The Scots offense continued to pound away at the West Mecklenburg defense as White found the end zone from 11 yards out. Bell kept the ball on the two-point conversion to give the Scots a 34-20.
White would score one more touchdown for the Scots before his night was over to give his team a 40-20 lead.
“We came in here saying we were going to run the ball and that’s what we did. It’s nice at the end of the game in those four-minute situations where the other team knows you’re going to run it and you’re still successful running it,” said Bailey. “That’s when you know you have a heck of an offensive line and backs that run unbelievable. I think Zamir had 20-some carries for 220 yards and Smiley had 19 carries for 165 yards — that’s about as balanced as you can be.”
West Mecklenburg scored a final touchdown on the Scots second-string defense. Sneed found Barnes in the end zone to make it a 40-27 game. The Scots offense got the ball and Bell took a knee to run the clock out.
“West Meck has some great skill guys and a great scheme, they are coached up. They are going to win a lot of games but we felt we could run the football and we came in here and did just that,” said Bailey. “Our defense, against a team averaging 48 points a game, and that last touchdown was on our back-up guys I feel good about that.”
Amber Hatten can be reached at 910-506-3170.