Scotlandville’s defense stopped McKinley five times on fourth down and gave up just 29 yards rushing on 22 carries.
That combination helped power the Hornets to a season-opening 19-3 victory over McKinley on Friday night at Memorial Stadium in a battle of Class 5A teams from different districts.
“Our defense is outstanding,” Scotlandville coach Eric Randall said. “Our boys run to the ball well. They’re strong and resilient. They call themselves the ‘no-fly zone’ and haven’t given up a touchdown yet.”
McKinley (0-1) played without suspended quarterback Travion Alexander. Juniors Christian Smith and Euric Larvinette shared time at QB and combined to complete just 9 of 22 passes for 43 yards.
Scotlandville sophomore quarterback Levi Lewis threw into double coverage early in the game, and McKinley’s Jaylon Johnson intercepted and made a 43-yard return to the Scotlandville 10-yard line. McKinley lost 8 yards on three running plays, but Aden Lopez kicked a 34-yard field goal on fourth down to put the Panthers up 3-0 with 2:26 remaining in the first quarter.
Scotlandville (1-0) scored on its next two possessions, driving 55 yards in 14 plays and 30 yards in four plays. The longer series was particularly impressive, with a fourth-down pass conversion to extend the drive and a fourth-and-goal 8-yard TD run by Lewis that put the Hornets up 7-3 with 8:06 remaining in the second quarter.
Scotlandville’s defense forced a three-and-out and Dwayne Williams had a 27-yard punt return to set up the second score. Delmas Holmes had a 17-yard run, and Reggie Cleveland scored on an 8-yard run as the Hornets led 13-3 with 5:09 remaining in the half following a missed PAT.
On the first play from scrimmage of the second half, McKinley’s Charles Vaughn fumbled, and Scotlandville’s Martin Battiste picked up the ball and ran 47 yards. Holmes ran for an 8-yard TD on the next play, and the ensuing two-point pass fell incomplete as Scotlandville led 19-3.
Holmes finished with 61 yards rushing on 14 carries. Cleveland added 48 yards on 10 carries.
McKinley had a kickoff TD return called back because of a penalty and had two opportunities to score in the fourth quarter after Scotlandville was unable to get off two punts. McKinley took over at the Scotlandville 38- and 15-yard lines.
“We made some crucial mistakes that really cost us,” McKinley coach Robert Signater Sr. said. “We’ve got to execute better. We’ve got to be able to score in the red zone.”
A bright spot for the Panthers was Johnson, who had more than 100 yards in the kickoff and punt returns.
Scotlandville was 2-of-6 on fourth down conversions.
“We have a lot of young guys on the offensive line,” Randall said. “We’ve got to get better in our snaps and punting game. In some ways, I like going for it on fourth down.”