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Fighting Scots capitalize on mistakes by Bulldogs to remain undefeated

Sep. 2—BENNETTSVILLE, S.C. — For the past two weeks, the Scotland football team wanted to deliver payback to their opponents.

And once those games concluded, the Fighting Scots had successfully done so.

After redeeming themselves from their 2022 playoff loss to Terry Sanford with a 34-29 win last week, Scotland used miscues by Marlboro County to avenge last season's loss to the Bulldogs with a 49-26 victory Friday night at McAlpine Stadium in the Battle of the Border rivalry game.

"I thought we did pretty well; some things we can build on," Scotland head coach Richard Bailey said. "Very pleased with our continued growth on offense. Our offensive line, our running backs, then Ji'San (McPhatter), and our wideouts, we really don't have a weakness. Defensively, we can play better. We had some breakdowns, but we also had some backups in there late, and we were playing with a backup linebacker since the first quarter. Just have to continue improving because it's going to keep getting tougher."

Scotland (3-0) scored on their first drive in four plays after a 4-yard touchdown run by running back Zay Jones. On the ensuing kickoff, the Scots recovered a muffed kickoff return by the Bulldogs and were set up at Marlboro's 30-yard line, where Jones ended the possession with a 9-yard TD run to put Scotland up 14-0 with 8:18 to go in the first quarter.

Wide receiver Justin Purvis answered for Marlboro (1-1) on the next possession with a 46-yard TD reception before tight end Damon Short's catch added two more points on the conversion attempt to make it 14-8.

From there, RB Corheim Hasty started a string of 22 straight points by the Scots on a 19-yard TD run, which was followed by a successful two-point try on a run out of the Wildcat formation by wide receiver Shylan Harrell to extend Scotland's lead to 22-8 with 3:51 remaining in the first.

Harrell, the Scotland JV football team's starting quarterback last season, ended the night with three catches for 59 yards and three carries for 13 yards.

"I feel like I did very well," Harrell said. "I feel like I'm going to get better and really improve throughout the season. They moved me to receiver this year. I feel like I'm doing a bit better, but I've still got the QB ability to be one in the long run."

Just before the first quarter ended, Marlboro had an opportunity to tighten the gap in the score with a first-and-goal at the 5-yard line. Three plays and a pre-snap penalty later, the Bulldogs failed to score on fourth-and-goal from the 10-yard line.

After McPhatter fumbled the ball away on the next drive for the Scots, the Bulldogs went for a fourth-and-9 at Scotland's 33-yard line, but QB Tashon Boatwright's pass fell incomplete.

Harrell found the end zone moments later on a fourth-and-2 run from the Marlboro 9-yard line to make Scotland's lead 29-8 with 4:01 left in the second.

"I think we started figuring them out," Bailey said. "They were blitzing a lot; we were missing a few. You work on it in practice, but it's not the same as in the game. We figured it out, started taking better steps, cutting it off."

With 2:07 to go before halftime, wide receiver Dajuan Gibson reeled in a 48-yard TD pass from McPhatter to add to Scotland's lead.

"I think hitting that one before halftime was a good confidence boost for him," Bailey said about McPhatter.

McPhatter's big plays continued coming at the beginning of the second half. After Marlboro ran in a 3-yard score from running back Jarrell Williams with a misfired two-point attempt, McPhatter located wide receiver Quatavius Everette for a 62-yard score before the extra point was blocked, making the score 42-14 with 9:44 left in the third.

"They came out in 'bear' in the second half, and we hit them with a home run," Bailey said. "If you're going to do that, we're going to throw. So, it's all about taking what they give us."

With 5:48 remaining in the third, Purvis found the end zone for the second time on a 23-yard TD catch to put the Bulldogs' deficit at 42-20 after the two-point try was no good. Harrell scored another rushing TD from the Marlboro 2-yard line near the end of the third, and the Bulldogs added one more score late in the fourth on a 15-yard reception by Short with an unsuccessful two-point attempt.

Jones had 20 rushes for 166 yards for Scotland, Hasty had 12 carries for 103 yards, and Everette had four receptions for 94 yards.

Boatwright was 17 of 29 for 257 yards and had 10 rushes for 56 yards for Marlboro, running back Coreyon Gregg had four carries for 46 yards, Purvis had nine grabs for 156 yards, and Short had four catches for 40 yards.

The Scots have utilized their running backs heavily to start the season thus far but that hasn't shied away from McPhatter providing consistent QB play for the team.

McPhatter was 8 of 12 for 201 yards and still has not thrown an interception this season.

"He made some really good throws," Bailey said. "The one thing is we can't miss a 'now screen;' that's a wasted down. That's a running play for us. He missed a couple of those. Those are called gifts. Well, it's not a gift if we don't complete it. That's a lump of coal. And so, we've got to work on those. But overall, I was very proud of him."

Scotland hosts Jack Britt to wrap up nonconference play next week.