For the Marlboro County Bulldogs and their fans, last Friday was very sweet. The Bulldogs snapped a losing streak to Scotland County that dated back to 2011, coming from behind for a 41-25 victory.
"This was a big one for us. We haven't had any success against Scotland in a while and given how close the communities are to each other, that has been a tough pill to swallow," said MCHS head coach Dean Boyd.
"Maybe the best aspect of this game is that we rallied from an early deficit. For the last couple of years, if things didn't go right to begin with, we have wilted. Tonight, we bounced back and that is the mark of a mature team," he said.
The Bulldogs appeared to have started the game on a high note, however, a penalty negated an opening kickoff return for a touchdown.
When the Scots got their hands on the ball, they marched 54 yards in 10 plays to take the lead. Quarterback Tyler Barfield hit Trey Chavis in the corner of the endzone for a 16-yard scoring pass.
Early in the second quarter, the Scots added to their lead with a 10-yard run from senior running back Joseph McCoy. The extra point failed, leaving the Scots with a 13-0 lead.
The Bulldogs finally got the offense in gear with the ensuing possession. Two runs by quarterback Elijah Blair and passes to Rictavious McInnis and Calron Thomas moved the ball to the Scots' 3.
There Blair fired the ball to Tyreek Eaddy on a slant route. Eaddy made the catch in the endzone to put the Bulldogs on the board.
The Marlboro defense forced a three-and-out. After a penalty on the Scots on the punt, Scotland had to re-kick. Bulldog senior Jordan Swinton made them pay for the error.
Swinton caught the punt at the Bulldogs' 29, broke through the first wave of the Scotland coverage unit and raced up the visitors' sidelines. After running over the Scots' punter, he was finally pulled down at the Scots'15.
D.J. Hicks blasted into the endzone three plays later. Zach Rogers' extra point gave the Bulldogs their first lead, 14-13.
A 35-yard run by Blair would set up Rogers for a 33-yard field goal just before the end of the half.
The Scots recaptured the lead with an 11-play, 60-yard drive to start the second half. McCoy completed the march with a 7-yard run. A two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving the Scots with a 19-17 advantage.
The ensuing Bulldog drive ended in a punt but the Scots failed to field it cleanly. Marlboro County recovered the fumble at the Scotland 45.
Runs of 25 and 12 yards by Hicks moved the ball to the 8. Blair bulldozed down to the Scots' 1. Hicks sliced through a seam in the line to give the Bulldogs the lead.
It was short-lived, as the Scots raced 70 yards with the kickoff. The two-point conversion again failed, leaving Scotland with a 25-24 lead.
Marlboro's next possession ended in a punt but the Scots handed the ball back, fumbling at their own 29.
Rogers gave the Bulldogs the lead for good with a 39-yard field goal four plays later.
Swinton gave Marlboro some breathing room, picking off a Barfield pass and racing 33 yards to the endzone.
"That was just great awareness by Jordan. He had noticed something the receiver did every time they ran that play before. Jordan ran in front of the little come-back route and just had to out-run the quarterback to the endzone," said Boyd.
Now trailing by nine with less than seven minutes to play, the Scots were forced to go for it on fourth down in their own territory.
The pass attempt fell incomplete, giving the Bulldogs the ball at the Scots' 33.
After rushing for a first down at the 16, Blair lofted a pass over the shoulder of Thomas in the corner of the endzone for the final TD of the game. Rogers booted his fifth extra point completing the scoring.
"This one is pretty satisfying. We still have work to do, but heading into our bye week 3-0 gives us a lot of confidence. The fan support we got tonight was a big boost," said Boyd.
Blair was 7 of 17 for 67 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 75 yards on 15 attempts.
Hicks rushed for 79 yards on 19 attempts. Eaddy had 3 receptions for 17 yards. Thomas caught two balls for 23 yards and a TD. McInnis had two receptions for 27 yards.
Davon Green and Ishmael Sloan each had 8 tackles to lead the defensive effort.
The Bulldogs have this week off before hosting South Florence (2-1) next Thursday in the Channel 21 game of the week.