LAURINBURG — Coming off of a dramatic victory against previously-undefeated Pinecrest a week ago, the Scotland football team welcomed a much less formidable foe to Pate Stadium Friday night.
Even so, human nature could have called for a letdown given that Hoke entered the contest as the only winless team in the Southeastern Conference, and the Scots dealt with a myriad of potential distractions all week leading up to homecoming.
But Scotland made it clear early on that it was not going to put on a sub-par performance in front of its home crowd and returning alumni, scoring the first 35 points of the game en route to a 48-14 victory.
The Scots improved to 9-0 this season and 3-0 in the SEC with the win while the loss dropped Hoke to 0-9 and 0-3 in conference play.
Scotland drew first blood on its opening possession — after running back Zamir White gained 25 yards on two carries, quarterback Dashaun Ferguson threw a 27-yard touchdown strike to receiver Willie Douglas after just 1:03 elapsed off the game clock.
Hoke, as it did on its first four offensive possessions of the game, punted the ball away on the next series. At the 9:29 mark, the Scots ran a perfectly-executed double-reverse pass when Ferguson hit Douglas for another touchdown, this time from 51 yards out. Douglas stood alone at the 15-yard line and hauled in the catch with no Hoke defender in sight.
The lanky senior finished with three receptions for 120 yards and two scores.
“We throw it wherever we need to, sometimes it comes your way, sometimes it doesn’t,” said Scotland coach Richard Bailey said. “Tonight it was Willie’s night. “
After another Hoke punt, the Scots experienced one of their few hiccups on offense when a drive stalled inside the red zone. Kicker Grant Ciarrocca trotted out to attempt the 28-yard field goal, but missed it wide right.
The Scots were able to tack on seven more points before the end of the first quarter when Zamir White broke through the Bucks defense and scored on a 41-yard touchdown run. Then with 10:52 in the second, Scotland increased its lead to 28-0 when Ferguson tossed his third touchdown of the game on a 28-yard pass to H-back Nautica McCallum.
The senior signal caller did not throw an incomplete pass all night.
“We do whatever it takes to win,” Bailey said. “We threw it around. People think we’re one-dimensional. We’re not one-dimensional. We run the ball because we want to run it, but we’re very capable of throwing the football.”
Hoke recorded its first first down of the contest with 9:18 remaining in the second quarter, but turned the ball over three plays later after Devin Norwood coughed up the football.
Despite starting in prime field position, Scotland gave it right back to Hoke after White fumbled. However, the Bucks were unable to capitalize on the Scots’ miscue. On its following offensive series, Hoke converted one first down before turning the ball over on downs.
Bailey’s team added one more touchdown before the half when White rumbled his way to a 6-yard touchdown on a third-down play with 1:47 to go before halftime.
Aided by a defensive pass interference penalty by Scotland on Hoke’s opening series of the second half, the Bucks got on the scoreboard when quarterback Andre Pegues kept the ball on a read-option play and ran untouched for a 28-yard touchdown.
White returned the following kickoff into Bucks territory then rushed for his third and final touchdown of the day one play later, crossing the pylon from 38 yards out.
Scotland’s first-team defense took the field for one final series and forced the Bucks’ Quinn Maynor to fumble on a run up the middle. The ball fell into the lap of Scotland’s Keyshawn Covington, who streaked into the end zone for the 20-yard touchdown to cap the Scots’ scoring.
The Scots played their second- and third-team units for the rest of the game, and Hoke was able to take advantage with 1:20 remaining in the third quarter when Pegues plowed into the end zone from one yard out.
Scotland will travel to Lumberton next week to battle the Pirates, who were defeated 54-7 by Richmond in Rockingham Friday. Hoke will attempt to notch its first victory of the year when it travels to play Purnell Swett.
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.