LAURINBURG — The Fighting Scots played inspired on Friday paying homage to their injured teammate senior tailback Zamir White.
The offense and defense came out fired up and ready to prove the team was capable of winning in the absence of No. 34.
When it was all said and done, the Fighting Scots and South Central combined for over 1,000 yards of total offense as Scotland secured its place in the 4A Eastern Regional Finals with a 74-34 win.
Not to mention, senior quarterback Warren Bell broke the Scotland High School quarterback rushing record set by former Scots quarterback Jaylend Ratliffe back in 2013. During his junior campaign, Ratliffe rushed for 311 yards in one game, Bell shattered that record on Friday rushing for 380 yards.
The Scots senior was also the teams leading scorer with six touchdowns. Bell and Scots head coach Richard Bailey were again quick to commend the offensive line for making the 74 points possible.
“Warren is an incredible football player, but our offensive line is the best group I’ve ever coached,” Bailey said. “In all facets of the game I feel like we controlled tonight. Smiley had a good game, we had to go more with quarterback runs because they put seven in the box. Smiley was having to block on back some of the counters to make them work, but he also hit a couple himself.”
Junior Syheam “Smiley” McQueen and Bell exchanged touchdowns through the first eight minutes as the Fighting Scots jumped out to a 28-6 lead over South Central.
Running back Joseph McKoy opened the game with a 95-yard kick return to set up a 5-yard touchdown gallop by McQueen. The Fighting Scots defense forced South Central to turn the ball over on downs at the 42-yard line.
One play later Bell rumbled — untouched — into the end zone for his first of five first-half touchdowns. With a 14-0 lead, McQueen slipped out of the pile for a 30-yard touchdown run to put the Scots up another seven, 21-0.
“We felt like we could move the ball on them, they hadn’t played a real tough schedule and I’m sure they would be the first to tell you they hadn’t seen anyone quite like us,” Bailey said. “They had a great year, this was South Central’s first time every making it to the third round of the playoffs so they are to be commended.” Bailey said.
South Central quarterback Dexter McDuffie and the Falcons found the end zone with five and a half minutes left in the first quarter on a 61-yard catch and run by Emannuel Lewis.
Bell and the Scots responded with a 46-yard touchdown run to lead 28-6 with 4:37 left in the first quarter.
The Falcons, not to be out done, made it a two-score game on a 21-yard pass from McDuffie to E. Lewis. By the end of the first quarter, the 4A’s top two offenses had combined for over 620 yards of total offense.
The Fighting Scots picked up where they left off in the second quarter as Bell found the end zone twice from four and 71 yards to put his team up 40-14 after two missed extra points.
With just over two minutes left in the first half, McDuffie put the Falcons offense on his back and willed them to a touchdown after facing fourth and long at mid-field. McDuffie kept the drive alive and found Jeremy Lewis on a crossing route to cut the deficit to 20-points with the Fighting Scots leading, 40-20.
Fighting Scots Bruce Wall brought the fans to their feet on an explosive kick return for a touchdown that was negated by a questionable personal foul call. Despite the touchdown being called back, it only took Bell two plays to find the end zone for a fifth time from six yards out.
With the temperature dropping, the Fighting Scots stayed fired up as senior defensive back Davon Ratliffe came down with an interception at the 46-yard line.
For the third time in the first half, the Fighting Scots had a touchdown called back due to a penalty, as McQueen broke free from 46 yards to take the ball to the house. An illegal block in the back call negated McQueen’s touchdown. Two plays later, Bell aired it out from 23-yards to Wall for the touchdown.
With 36 seconds before halftime, the Scots had a commanding, 54-20 lead after a successful two-point conversion play on the hand off from Bell to McQueen.
Over the next 15 seconds, Scots junior Tyshoun Thomas picked off McDuffie and returned the ball to the 15-yard line. One play later, Bell found senior Khalil Smith in the left corner of the end zone for six more points. The two-point conversion was stopped by South Central, but it only momentarily stopped the bleeding as the Scots took a 60-20 lead into the locker room.
Thomas started the third quarter with his second interception of the game. Thomas’ return after the interception of McDuffie put the Scots at their own 20 yard line to set up a 78-yard touchdown run by Bell. The Scots field general bobbed and weaved through defenders along the sidelines on his way to the end zone.
The Scots ended the third quarter the same way they started it — with an interception. This time, senior Marqwues Wilson picked off McDuffie.
Third string running back Isaiah Wilson fumbled the ball at mid-field and South Central defensive lineman Tylando Pickney picked up the ball and ran it to the three-yard line. The play set up a three-yard touchdown pass from McDuffie to Jalen Wilson. A failed two-point conversion put South Central down 67-26.
The Fighting Scots offense scored one final touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 49-yard sprint by McKoy to put the Scots up 74-26 with 5:36 to play. South Central, out of desperation, scored a final touchdown on a 40-yard pass from McDuffie to Lewis to make the final score 74-34.
The Fighting Scots will play No. 2 Hoggard in the Eastern Regional Finals on Dec. 1. While on the Western side of the bracket, No. 1 Harding University will face No. 6 Zebulon B. Vance to determine who will play for the 4A state title.
“This will be the second time we’ve played Hoggard in the playoffs,” Bailey said. “They are undefeated and having a great year. We’re going to have to be ready to play. They are a multiple formation team that throws it and runs it equally well. They are going to present a lot of problems to our defense. We’re going to have to be as focused as we’ve ever been.”
Amber Hatten can be reached at 910-506-3170.