LAURINBURG — The Scotland County and Richmond County rivalry didn’t start on the gridiron, but in the political arena.
When the eastern portion of North Carolina was colonized by the Highland Scots, Quakers and the English in the 1720s that entire section of the state was considered Richmond County.
Richmond County was named for Charles Lennox, the 3rd Duke of Richmond, who criticized the policy of the British toward the American colonies, and was originally known as Richmond Court House before it was changed to Rockingham in 1784.
In 1899, an act was introduced by Hector McLean to the General Assembly to separate Scotland County from Richmond. In the act, Laurinburg was designated as the county seat and Scotland County began to function in December 1900.
Back then dividing the counties into two was for political purposes, so businessman wouldn’t have to travel several days to attend a meeting.
Now the divide is determined by football.
This season will be the 50th meeting of the two programs and despite a six-year win streak by the Fighting Scots, the Raiders lead the 50-year rivalry with a 35-14-1 record.
After the counties separated, Laurinburg High School played Rockingham and Hamlet High schools until 1967 when it became Scotland High. After the integration, the Fighting Scots were able to defeat Hamlet but still couldn’t get past Rockingham High.
Hamlet and Rockingham combined to create Richmond Senior in 1972 and the Raiders won the conference title the next six years. Scotland earned its first conference title in 1984. There was a ‘W’ on their record against Richmond that season, but the teams were not in the same conference at the time.
From 1985 until 1991 Richmond won or shared the conference title then in 1993 Scotland and Richmond were co-conference champions with Scotland winning the head-to-head match up with the Raiders.
The following season, 1994, Scotland was crowned conference champion but for the next five seasons it was the Raiders who reigned supreme as conference champions.
There was a three-way tie for the title in 2001 between Richmond, Scotland and Douglas Byrd — but Richmond won the head-to-head against Scotland. The next eight years, 2002-2010, saw the Raiders retain their title.
Scotland snapped a 17-year losing streak to Richmond in 2011 on its way to the program’s first state championship under former head coach Chip Williams, who retired after that season. Since then it’s been up to current head coach Richard Bailey to pummel the Raiders and keep the Scots atop their throne.
Since taking over at Scotland in 2012, Bailey has yet to lose to Richmond — or any conference opponent. He will look to secure his seventh victory in a row against the Raiders at the end of the week.
For six straight years, Scotland and Richmond have met at the end of the season with the Southeastern Conference championship hanging in the balance — and each time, the Scots have gotten the better of their arch-nemesis.
This season, the conference might have a new name but Friday will be an all-too-familiar scene — the Scots and Raiders will once again play for conference supremacy in Pate Stadium.
But first, let’s take a walk down memory lane and recap the past six years of success that Scotland has enjoyed over the Raiders.
Scotland ended an almost two decade-long drought against Richmond with a 41-7 win at Pate Stadium. The victory kept the Scots’ undefeated record in tact, and they eventually marched on to pound Porter Ridge to secure a 4A state championship.
The two-headed rushing attack of Tony McRae and Kwashaun Quick overwhelmed the Raiders — McRae had four rushing touchdowns and Quick tallied almost 400 yards of total offense. The lethal dual-threat quarterback had 187 rushing yards on nine carries, and he also racked up 171 yards through the air.
Scotland’s defense didn’t take a back seat in the win, either, as they held Richmond to 185 total yards. The Scots led 41-0 at one point before the Raiders were finally able to get on the board against Scotland’s second-string defense.
After graduating many of their star players from the 2011 state championship team, Bailey and a quarterback by the name of Jaylend Ratliffe entered enemy territory seeking an upset over the previously-undefeated Raiders.
It was a slug fest befitting the top rivalry in North Carolina, and in the end the Scots came away with their second straight victory against Richmond.
Ratliffe rushed for a 25-yard touchdown with less than three minutes left to break open a tie game. The Scotland defense then forced a turnover on the Raiders’ final possession to secure the 21-14 win in Rockingham. That clutch go-ahead score was a coming out party for the then-sophomore Ratliffe — he finished the game with 145 yards on 22 carries as the Scots had almost 250 rushing yards. Scotland’s defense once again shined, recovering three fumbles and securing one interception.
Scotland’s third win against its rivals to the west had far less drama than the second, as the Ratliffe-led Scots scored 35 second-half points en route to a 49-14 win in Laurinburg.
Richmond’s ground attack and passing game were bottled up once more — the Raiders only managed 3.1 yards per rush, and the three quarterbacks who saw playing time combined for three interceptions with 84 total passing yards between them.
The Scotland defense forced seven Richmond turnovers, returning three fumbles for touchdowns and taking an interception back to the house. Those 28 points outpaced the Scots’ offense, which put 21 on the board.
Richmond welcomed Scotland to Rockingham sporting an unblemished record for the second time in four meetings, but it was the Scots who walked off the field victorious.
Despite playing without Ratliffe, who missed the year after suffering a fractured skull in an ATV accident, Dashaun Ferguson stepped in and led the Scots to a 34-13 victory. The then-junior completed 6 of 7 passes for 122 yards and one touchdown, and rushed for 69 more yards with another score.
Leading 27-13 in the fourth quarter, Scotland put together a 15-play, 80-yard drive that drained nine minutes off the clock. Zamir White punctuated the possession with a two-yard touchdown run to give the Scots a three-score lead and end any chance of a Raiders comeback.
Scotland was riding the wave of another undefeated season in 2015 when the Raiders entered Pate Stadium and brought some “Raider Magic” with them.
Down 28-0 in the third quarter, Richmond scored 21 unanswered points and found themselves inside the Scots’ red zone with less than 30 seconds left in the game after recovering an onside kick. The Raider’s quarterback Leon Zeigler failed to keep track of then-senior linebacker Jonathan Smith, who secured the game-winning interception that earned Scotland its fifth straight SEC title.
For the first time in the 50-year rivalry Scotland shut-out the Raiders, 21-0 in Rockingham to earn its sixth consecutive SEC title. It was the fourth shut out of the season for the Fighting Scots defense, a unit that was allowing opponents to score just 6.5 points per game.
Scotland had a 7-0 lead at the half before running back Shyeam McQueen and Zamir White each scored a rushing touchdown, but it was the defense that sealed the victory. Scotland linebacker Javon Ratliffe forced a fumble by Richmond quarterback Leon Zeigler. Fighting Scots quarterback Sergio Gibson took a knee twice to end the game.
Amber Hatten can be reached at 910-506-3170.