LAURINBURG — Scotland overcame three disastrous turnovers against Hoke County to win 38-24 and stay undefeated Friday night at Pate Stadium.
The Scots turned the ball over four times — three of which came inside their own 20-yard line — to fall behind early. The Bucks scored 17 points off of turnovers but Scotland’s offense was able to wear their opponents down and score 28 points in the second half. Scotland was unable to get its offense of the ground for most of the first half, as the defensive line of Hoke didn’t allow much running room. However, that changed in the second half after Scotland adjusted and began running more power run plays with extra blockers.
Scotland coach Richard Bailey said the adjustments helped, as well as not giving Hoke the ball in such prime field position.
“We made some adjustments … We just had to quit shooting ourselves in the foot and make some plays, and thankfully Jaylend Ratliffe is on our side,” Bailey said.
It was a drastically different performance all around from the team that destroyed Pinecrest last week. The game felt unusual from the start, when the Scots failed to reach the end zone on their opening drive for the first time all season, settling for a chip-shot field goal from Ben Utter. Then, after the fastest first quarter this year, the turnovers started to swing the game Hoke’s way. Jaylend Ratliffe had the ball knocked from his hands on his own 8-yard line where Hoke recovered it. The next play Jamal Darden ran it into the end zone to put the Bucks up. Ratliffe would lose the ball again on the Scots’ next possession, this time on his 18-yard line. And once again, Hoke took advantage, this time with a field goal.
Despite all of that, the Scots tied the game up 10-10 before halftime thanks to a 4-yard rush by Ratliffe.
Unfortunately for Scotland, the second half began with a turnover. Ratliffe completed a pass for a first down to Trejon Monley, only to have his receiver fumble and Hoke return the ball all the way to Scotland’s 12-yard line. Hoke would find the end zone again a few plays later.
Monley would redeem himself in the fourth quarter with two huge plays. First, he made a leaping catch to put the ball on the four-yard line, setting up a Ratliffe score on the next play. Then on Scotland’s next possession, Monley ran the ball in from 23-yards outs for the final touchdown of the day.
Ratliffe carried the load for Scotland, rushing 27 times for 215 yards and two touchdowns. When Scotland scored its first touchdown with two minutes left in the first half, Ratliffe was called upon to run the ball five consecutive plays. He completed four of 17 pass attempts for 59 yards.
Scotland out-gained Hoke 451 to 152 overall. The Bucks had several players put in work on both offense and defense, and the extra effort showed towards the end of the game.
After the game, Bailey was not happy about the numerous personal fouls his team committed, saying that the Scots need to play with more character. Scotland was flagged several times at the end of plays to extend Hoke’s drives. In total, the Scots gave up 88 yards in penalties on eight flags.
Scotland (8-0, 3-0) travels to Lumberton (0-9, 0-3) next Friday for the last road game of the regular season. The game begins at 7:30 p.m.