With just one game standing in their path to a state title berth, the Scotland High School varsity football team made sure to leave no stone unturned on their path to Winston-Salem.
The Fighting Scots demolished New Bern 61-28 Friday night at Pate Stadium in the North Carolina 4-A Eastern Regional, setting Scotland up for a date with Porter Ridge next weekend for a shot at the state title.
Scotland’s powerful offense rushed for 305 yards and six scores, blasting the Bears for 33 unanswered points in the first half to work their way to a 40-7 halftime lead.
Scotland’s defense turned the Bears over four times in the win, picking off New Bern (12-2) quarterback Josh Taylor three times to hand the Fighting Scots’ their 14th win of the season.
The Fighting Scots (14-0) strung together one of their most complete games of the season, scoring on offense, defense and special teams, while making their way to their first ever title game appearance in school history.
“I just give thanks to everything around,” Scotland head coach Chip Williams said. “Our coaches, our players, our great community . It’s been pretty special. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a defense play as good as our defense did tonight. Our offense scored and everything just came out. We got a little sluggish in the middle there, but I guess that’s to be expected against a very good football team in New Bern.”
Scotland’s running backs found the end zone three times in the first quarter, pushing their lead to 26-0 in the first half on touchdown runs from Tony McRae and Caison Murphy.
McRae kicked off his 3-touchdown night with a 9-yard scoring run less than two minutes into the game, converting an Isaiah Robinson fumble recovery into points after the Bears fumbled on their opening drive.
Scotland’s defense continued their hot start in the first quarter on New Bern’s third drive of the contest, as Dante Johnson picked-off Taylor for a 65-yard interception return for a score to push the Fighting Scots’ lead to 14-0 with 6:28 to go in the first quarter.
Murphy and McRae scored on back-to-back drives for Scotland to close the first period, with Murphy crossing the goalline on a 25-yard score before McRae posted his second touchdown of the contest on a 2-yard run to extend Scotland’s lead to 26-0 with 22 seconds to go in the first period.
Scotland’s special teams got into the scoring action to start the second quarter, as Robinson returned a 50-yard punt for a touchdown for Scotland’s fifth score of the game. Robinson’s return set Scotland up with a 33-0 advantage, but the Bears responded with their lone score of the first half, as Taylor found wideout Shade Simpson for a 20-yard score to cut Scotland’s lead to 33-7 with 8:36 to go in the first half.
Scotland quarterback Kwashaun Quick, who finished 6-for-15 with 108 yards through the air, ended the first half with a bang, hitting senior Travis Wall for a 50-yard scoring bomb as time expired in the first half. Wall leapt over a Bear defensive back, snatching the ball just before crossing the goalline for the half-ending score, giving Scotland a 40-7 lead heading into halftime.
The Bears’ scored three touchdowns in the second half, including a 33-yard interception return, but Scotland added touchdowns on an 18-yard run from McRae, a 30-yard score from Murphy and a 5-yard scamper by quarterback Storm Davis to clinch the 33-point win.
Taylor added a pair of late touchdowns for New Bern, reaching the end zone on a 31-yard run and a 23-yard pass to Simpson, but in the end, it was the Fighting Scots who advanced to the state title game.
“We played a much better team tonight,” New Bern head coach Bobby Curlings said. “We made some mistakes early on. Scotland caused us to make a lot more mistakes. They capitalized on everything. If you dig a hole like that, it’s going to be tough to climb out of. We’ve played in the Eastern Regional six out of the last 10 years. That’s by far the best team we’ve played in the Eastern Regional. They’re just as good as some of the Independence teams we’ve played in the state championship, if not better. I think their chances are real good.”
Murphy led the Fighting Scots with 120 yards on the ground and two scores on nine carries, while McRae added 78 rushing yards and three scores on nine carries.
Quick finished with just 108 passing yards with a touchdown and an interception, but rushed for 119 yards in the win.
Wall finished as Scotland’s leading receiver, hauling in a pair of catches for 93 yards and a score.
“This was our goal since we came here,” Quick said. “We’ve worked hard for this.”
Taylor finished 19-of-40 for 264 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
“This means a lot,” Scotland defensive lineman Kris Tyndall said. “We’ve worked four years to get here. We have to go out and finish this. We have to be better next week than we were tonight. We have to finish this.”
Jamel Johnson, Dante Johnson and Robinson all finished the game with one interception apiece.
Taylor rushed for just 59 yards after running for almost 200 yards last week against New Hanover.
Scotland will take on undefeated Porter Ridge next weekend for the state championship.
The game will be held at BB&T Field at Wake Forest University at 7 p.m.