LAURINBURG — For the first time since 2010, the Marlboro County football team earned a victory against Scotland.
The Bulldogs capitalized on late mistakes by the Fighting Scots on the way to a 45-21 victory on Friday night at Pate Stadium.
Scotland struggled with fumbles and fourth down conversions as quarterback Tyler Barfield played a complete game under center for the first time this season.
“Our margin of error isn’t big enough where we can make all those kinds of mistakes,” Scotland head coach Richard Bailey said. “If we were a great team it would be hard to overcome all of those mistakes. Don’t get me wrong, I made some coaching mistakes. A lot of them. But you’re a little handcuffed at times because you’re worried about whether or not the kids can execute what you want them to execute.”
Scotland running back Joseph “Poppa” McKoy carried the ball 24 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns. He started in the backfield for the Scots after Syheam “Smiley” McQueen suffered a sprained MCL the previous week against Durham Hillside.
“Every time I scored, I looked to Smiley,” McKoy said. “I had to come hug him. That’s my boy.”
McKoy scored the first of his two touchdowns on a 10-yard run in the second quarter, giving the Scots a 13-0 lead after Barfield connected with Trey Chavis on a 15-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.
On the ensuing Marlboro County drive, quarterback Elijah Blair tossed a 3-yard touchdown pass to Tyrek Eaddy.
The Bulldogs forced the Scots to punt before running back Demarkus Hicks snuck into the endzone on a 1-yard run. After a successful extra point attempt by Marlboro County, the Bulldogs led 14-13.
Another drive that ended in a punt for the Scots resulted in Marlboro County’s Zach Rogers connecting on a 33-yard field goal that gave the Bulldogs a 17-13 lead at halftime.
The last seven plays of Scotland’s first drive of the second half were handoffs to McKoy, with the last one being a 7-yard touchdown run.
The Scots forced Marlboro County to punt on their next possession, but McKoy muffed the return and the Bulldogs took over on Scotland’s 45-yard line.
Hicks helped the Bulldogs take advantage of Scotland’s mistake with another 1-yard touchdown run.
Scotland’s Kavon Green responded by returning a punt 71 yards for a touchdown, giving the Scots a 25-24 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Marlboro County punted to start the fourth quarter, but a fumble on a handoff between Barfield and McKoy gave the Bulldogs the ball on Scotland’s 29-yard line.
Despite their good field position, the Bulldogs were held out of the endzone and settled on a 39-yard field goal by Rogers.
With Scotland facing a second-and-9 from its own 30-yard line, Jordan Swinton picked off a pass by Barfield and ran it all the way back for a touchdown. A successful extra point attempt gave Marlboro County a 34-25 lead.
After the Scots turned the ball over on downs, Calron Thomas caught a 16-yard touchdown pass that increased the Bulldogs’ lead to 41-25.
Scotland’s final drive of the game ended with another turnover on downs.
Hicks finished with 74 yards and two touchdowns for Marlboro County. Blair rushed for 77 yards and also completed seven of his eight passes for 67 yards and two touchdowns.
“We’ll come back harder next week,” McKoy said. “We’ll be alright. It’s just the beginning.”
Scotland now enters its bye week before taking on West Mecklenburg at home on Sept. 14.
Brandon Tester can be reached at [email protected] or 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.