SOUTH PORTLAND — Bonny Eagle needed most of three quarters before it could shake off its own mistakes and a pesky South Portland defense in a Class A South football season opener Friday night.

But when the Scots got their running game going and started limiting penalties, or overcoming them, they scored on four straight possessions starting late in the third quarter to pull away for a 34-6 victory.

“That was really our first game together. We’ve got to come out and trust each other, which I think in that second half we proved we could do,” said Bonny Eagle senior tri-captain Will Whyte.

Whyte led the attack with 160 yards on 21 carries. He scored on Bonny Eagle’s first drive, but South Portland, a youthful and undersized team compared to the Scots, was still trailing just 7-0 when Bonny Eagle took over at its own 32 with 3:08 left in the third quarter.

That’s when backup tailback Dylan Cobbett provided a spark with two long runs. Quarterback Zach Maturo began to be more assertive with his reads and showed his running skills as well. Maturo, who gained 151 yards on 18 carries (134 in the second half), broke tackles on his way to a 16-yard score.

The Scots’ other quarterback, Keegan Meredith, also contributed. He struggled in the first half and was sacked four times, but he was quicker with his reads in the second half and completed a spot-on deep ball to Shaun Brilliant for a 35-yard touchdown to open the fourth quarter and extend the lead to 20-0. That came after the Scots had two consecutive touchdown plays negated by penalties.

South Portland answered with a 49-yard score when Anthony Poole connected with Josh Frank, who went up high for the catch and then kept his balance and ran the final 20 yards.

Bonny Eagle finished its next two drives, with Maturo going 27 yards for his second rushing TD and Cobbett (seven carries, 68 yards) scoring from the 2.

Both teams showed their youth on offense in the first half.

The Scots, returning only two starters from last year’s 8-2 team that reached the South semifinals, gave up four sacks and were hurt by four penalties, including one that negated a long catch and run by Whyte. They also lost two fumbles.

“With a bunch of kids who are first-time starters to respond the way they did and come back and play the way they did in the second half shows a lot about our team,” said Bonny Eagle Coach Kevin Cooper.

South Portland also returns only two starters on each side and is even younger, with an undersized offensive line featuring three juniors and two sophomores. Bonny Eagle sacked Poole three times in the first half. One play that worked well was a quick off-tackle run by 145-pound Keenan Jones, once going for 60-plus yards only to be called back by a holding penalty.

“I was really proud of the emotion they brought in pregame, during the first half and even at halftime,” South Portland Coach Steve Stinson said. “For the majority of the kids out there, it was their first time stepping on a varsity field. They came out and wanted to play ball. They weren’t intimidated.”

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

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Twitter: SteveCCraig