LAURINBURG — A capacity crowd was deafening as Scotland and Richmond met for the 50th time on Friday night.
The Scots special teams brought the ball to mid-field to start the game. Two plays later senior Zamir White galloped into the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown.
The Scots scored so fast the smoke from their entrance was till lingering on the field as the defense emerged like a pack of lions prepared to hunt.
The Raiders proved to be a worthy opponent scoring o their first drive with an eight-yard run by Richmond senior tail back Dante Miller.
The remaining 10 minutes of the first quarter was a foot race as the Scots scored three more touchdowns to Richmond’s one. The marathon quarter ended with Scotland leading the half-century rivalry 27-14. The Raiders made it a one touchdown game with a 15-yard run by Miller to shrink the Scots lead.
The Raiders tied the game with 30.5 seconds left until halftime on a 30-yard pass from Richmond freshman quarterback Caleb Hood to Malik Stanbeck — with two Scotland defenders draped all over him.
The Fighting Scots responded with a 34-yard touchdown run by White that was negated by an illegal procedure call. The Scots caught a break as Richmond was called for pass interference moving the ball to the 23 yard line with 1.8 seconds left in the half.
Bell found sophomore Bruce Wall in the end zone as time ran out to give the Scots a 34-27 halftime lead.
The Fighting Scots opened the second half, the same way they closed out the first — a Bell touchdown. This time instead of through the air, Bell used his legs to scamper 42 yards for the score. Bell then kept the ball on the two-point conversion to put his team up 42-27.
As they did in the second quarter, the Raiders responded with a touchdown of their own on a nine-yard carry by Miller.
Bell wanted to put an exclamation point on his Senior Night as he broke free for a 61-yard touchdown to give the Scots some breathing room, 49-34.
The back and forth continued into the fourth quarter as Richmond refused to give up their five chance at a conference championship in six years.
Hood found a receiver from 12 yards out to make it a nine-point game, after an unsuccessful two-point conversion attempt. Seven seconds into the fourth quarter the Scots seventh-consecutive conference title was still very much on the line.
The Fighting Scots used their first possession of the fourth quarter to mount a methodical drive, capped by a nine-yard White touchdown to give the Scots a 56-40 lead with 8:04 left to play.
Scots senior defensive back Marqwues Wilson helped put the game out of reach on the Raiders as he picked off Hood and ran the interception back four yards for a touchdown. That combined with a four-yard touchdown by White on the Scots next offensive possession gave Scotland a 69-40 lead.
Hood and Richmond made a last-ditch effort to close the gap in the final minutes of the game. With 13.9 seconds left Hood found Wallace in the corner of the end zone to conclude the scoring making it a 69-47 Scotland victory.
The combined 116 points was a record for the 50-year rivalry and the 22-point victory secured Scotland their first Sandhills Athletic Conference championship and their seventh consecutive conference title.
“I felt like we were going to score a lot but I was hoping they wouldn’t,” Bailey said. “I thought we could get into the 50s on them. The play by Bruce (Wall) before half was huge. For us to be resilient for Warren to just keep running around and make that big play and Bruce to keep it alive is that was big.”
White and Bell ended their Senior Nights with outstanding numbers, as White scored five touchdowns and Bell scored four. White broke the school record he set earlier this season rushing for over 400 yards.
“Zamir set a new school record he had 400 yards of offense, including a kick off return for a touchdown,” said Bailey. “You don’t get that without a great offensive line. That’s what people need to focus on, the offensive line was tremendous.”
“They did a great job scheming us up, it’s not secret throwing the ball against us it what people try. They did a good job, that freshman quarterback definitely doesn’t play like a freshman. We made enough plays, coach Johnson is big about saying playing good enough defense to win. We got enough stops, the pick six by Marqwues Wilson was huge.
“I’m happy with the win and just blessed to be part of this program.
An in-depth look at the game along with playoff seedings will appear in print in Tuesday’s edition of the paper.
Amber Hatten can be reached at 910-506-3170.