The Fighting Scots have one of the most difficult schedules in North Carolina, and after the past three weeks it’s easy to see why.
After a grueling stretch of games against New Hanover, Marlboro County and Jack Britt, the Fighting Scots had one last non-conference game on their schedule: The Anson Bearcats. But as the game progressed, the mood on the Scots’ sidelines became celebratory as Scotland piled on one touchdown after another.
The final score was 56-6 in favor of the Fighting Scots in a game that gave several players a chance to see their first minutes of the season.
“You need program games like this,” said Scotland coach Richard Bailey after the game. “Good teams beat who they’re supposed to beat and the way they’re supposed to beat them, and we did exactly that against Anson. It was a great effort overall, and there were a lot of smiles out there for us tonight as some guys got more play time than usual.”
On their first offensive play of the game, the Fighting Scots made their only first half mistake. Attempting to recreate last week’s success with the passing game, sophomore quarterback Jaylend Ratliffe aired a pass out to TreShawn Gregory (who had three touchdown receptions last week at Jack Britt) that was intercepted by Bearcats’ corner C.J. Bivens.
But after this crowd-stirring play, it all went downhill for Anson as the Fighting Scots imposed their will on both sides of the ball.
In a taste of things to come, Scotland’s second offensive possession saw running back Josh McPhatter explode up the middle untouched for a 40-yard touchdown run. McPhatter also broke a 38 yard run in the first half as well, giving him 81 yards on just three carries.
Defensively, Scotland harassed the Bearcats into just 39 combined first-half yards on offense as Fighting Scots’ linebacker Artemis Robinson flied to the ball on nearly every play for a double digit tackling performance in the first 24 minutes alone.
The Scots interior pressure also forced Anson quarterback Rodrick Evans into several errant throws, including two first half interceptions that resulted in Evans being replaced by Bunyon Tyson, who didn’t fare much better on the night.
Any hope for the Bearcats to make the game competitive was effectively thrown out in a 21-point Scotland quarter that showcased the difference between the two teams. The first play of the second quarter for the Fighting Scots was an 8-yard touchdown run for Jalen McLean, who had three rushing scores and more than 90 rushing yards in the game.
The Scots would continue to throw the football as well and it finally paid dividends via a 27 yard touchdown pass from Ratliffe to Gregory in the second quarter. The final score of the half came after a Scotland fake punt resulted in a 51-yard pass completion to safety Robert McCoy, which was converted into a five-yard McLean touchdown run to end the quarter with his team up 28-0.
A pair of third quarter touchdown runs by McPhatter and McLean later, and a slew of sparingly-used players began to make an appearance in the game for both the Scots and Bearcats which included Scotland freshman QB Cross Holfert.
With 54 seconds left to go in the third quarter, A designed-quarterback keeper resulted in Holfert’s first touchdown in a varsity Fighting Scots uniform. He was followed in the fourth quarter by Tre Thomas who had runs of 30, 20 and 16, the latter of which was a rushing touchdown in the waning minutes of the game.
The touchdown capped a feel-good game for the Fighting Scots, who will have a bye next weekend.