LAURINBURG — The second meeting between Scotland and Seventy-First was eerily similar than when the two teams squared off last month.
The Sandhills Athletic Conference showdown between the Fighting Scots and the Falcons in October for conference supremacy was a shoot-out with Scotland coming out on top, 56-35.
Friday’s game was a foot race from the jump as Seventy-First running back Fabion Jones took the first play from scrimmage 70 yards for a touchdown to put the Falcons up 7-0.
By the end of the third quarter the Fighting Scots had tallied 576 yards of total offense out gaining the Falcons by 243 yards. The cold weather kept fans wrapped up in blankets, and others in their homes to listen to the game on the radio or Facebook live.
The sparse crowd did let their boys in blue know they hadn’t frozen into their seats by cheering and shaking their cow bells.
The Scots kept the first-string players in until the first play of the fourth quarter as senior quarterback Warren Bell connected on a 66-yard catch and run to senior wide receiver Bruce Wall. The touchdown Bell-Wall connected put the Fighting Scots up 63-20 and activated the running clock for the final 11 minutes of the game.
The Fighting Scots scored five first-quarter touchdowns after allowing Seventy-First’s Juan Maddox to score a 70-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage.
“We worried about committing our safetys so wide to double cover Reggie Bryant so we knew if they creased us it was going to be a touchdown — and it was,” said head coach Richard Bailey. “The first play of the game, you think maybe this isn’t such a great play. We gave up a lot of rushing yards, but held them to only 90 yards passing. That makes them do something they don’t want to do — they want to give Reggie Bryant a lot of touches.”
The Falcons lead lasted just over two minutes before Bell scampered into the end zone from 14-yards out to tie the game.
Bailey dug into his bag of tricks asking junior kicker Luis Caulderon-Flores to attempt his first onside kick. The gamble paid off as senior tailback Zamir White broke free for his first touchdown of the half from 43 yards out.
The Fighting Scots defense flexed its muscle as senior defensive back T.J. Smith batted down a pass by Kyler Davis — kept his eyes on it and brought the ball down to step up a five-yard touchdown run by White to put the Scots up, 21-7 with just over six minutes left in the first quarter.
Bell extended the Scots lead with a 87-yard touchdown run as he tip toed down the sideline to put his team up by three touchdowns, 28-7. The Scots defense closed out the quarter by stopping the Falcons at mid-field, propelling their offense to their fifth touchdown of the half. Junior tailback Syheam “Smiley” McQueen made his return to the back field barrelling into the end zone from one yard out.
Seventy-First closed the gap in the second quarter with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Davis to Reggie Bryant then found a receiver in the end zone to shrink the Scots lead to 15 with just over two minutes until halftime, 35-20.
White responded with a 44-yard touchdown, followed by a Superman dive by Bell on the two-point conversion to make it a 23 point game, 43-20.
The Scots looked to active the running clock in the second half started the third quarter with a rushing touchdown by McQueen to inch closer to that magic 42-point lead.
Senior Khalil Smith returned to the backfield to score from five-yards out to extend the Scots lead even farther — with a win seemingly in their sights the bleachers of Pate Stadium began to clear. Those would be the only points scored in the third quarter as the Scots defense made the field a no-fly zone.
With just over two minutes left in the game, the Falcons offense put together a scoring drive on the Scots second-string defense to make the final score, 63-26.
Scotland will face the winner of No. 12 Knightdale and No. 4 South Central in the third round of the NCHSAA 4A playoffs on Black Friday in Pate Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
“Scotland football we’re going to be playing on Thanksgiving,” Bailey said. “I would love to go see my family in Texas but I have a commitment to this program and this team. We’ll practice early Thursday morning then get the kids to their families for Thanksgiving afternoon. (South Central) has a very explosive offense, they average more points than us. They are averaging 50 points a game. We’re going to have to play really good defense.”
Amber Hatten can be reached at 910-506-3170.