WILMINGTON — The Scotland football team dealt with late-game drama in recent weeks — Richard Bailey’s program won its past two games against rivals Marlboro County and Jack Britt by a combined nine points.
That was not the case Friday night in Wilmington against New Hanover, as the Scots scored the first 27 points of the contest en route to a 48-28 win that was not nearly as competitive as the score indicated. Scotland rested its offensive and defensive starters in the second half after leading 48-7 at the break.
“When everybody’s starters were on the field, we were pretty good,” Bailey said after the convincing victory. “We were dominant the whole night on defense, and offensively we rolled it as much as we wanted to. I was very proud of our kids.”
Scotland scored touchdowns on its first three offensive possessions and reached the end zone on seven of eight series.
Quarterback Dashaun Ferguson continued to show progress after returning from a torn PCL in his left knee that caused him to miss the first three games of the season, completing 8 of 16 for 198 yards and three scores.
After being held in check by his standards against Jack Britt a week ago, Zamir White returned to big-play form, racking up 132 yards and four touchdowns on 18 carries — all coming in the first 24 minutes of action.
Ferguson connected with receiver Willie Douglas on a 38-yard touchdown pass for the first score of the game, then found slot wideout Alston Smith for a 35-yard score on the Scots’ next offensive series.
The Scotland defense forced the Wildcats to punt on its first two series, then Manny Smith reeled in an interception off a tipped pass when New Hanover took the field for the third time.
That set up the Scots in good field position, and White scored his first touchdown of the night from four yards out.
But it wasn’t just the Ferguson and White show, as several offensive starters made contributions.
Smith caught a career-high five passes for 136 yards and a touchdown, and Douglas had 51 yards and two scores on as many catches, including a 13-yard strike from Ferguson with less than a second to go before halftime.
“We tried to take the load off of Zamir, especially since my quarterback right now is not running like he can normally run because of his injury,” Bailey said. “We threw the ball a little bit, had some big pass plays early. Alston Smith was very involved in what we were doing, hopefully he’ll keep that up.”
New Hanover’s only first-half touchdown came when Garrett Walston rushed for a 2-yard touchdown with 9:16 in the second quarter that closed the gap to 27-6.
In the second half, Scotland’s offensive and defensive lineups featured back ups and some junior varsity players — reserve running back Khalil Smith impressed in limited touches with 42 yards on eight carries.
The Wildcats reached the end zone twice in the third quarter and once more in the final period. Wiz Vaughn rushed for a 7-yard score at the 6:36 mark of the third, and Burke Estes threw a 9-yard touchdown to Vaughn four minutes later.
In the fourth, Javeon Hall ran it in for a 30-yard touchdown to cap the scoring.
Scotland totaled 478 yards of offense and New Hanover tallied 251 — at halftime, the Scots outgained the Wildcats 400 to 65.
Scotland improved to 5-0 with the win while the loss dropped New Hanover to 2-2.
The Scots will travel to Raleigh next Friday for its final non-conference game at Panther Creek.
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.