RAEFORD — With Scotland’s back against the wall in overtime against Hoke on Friday night, Fighting Scots assistant football coach Scott Barbour made a game-changing suggestion to head coach Richard Bailey.
Barbour suggested that the Scots take the field in their goal line formation and hand the ball off to running back Syheam “Smiley” McQueen, who had yet to appear in the game.
That plan ended up working, as McQueen scored on a 4-yard touchdown run before finding the endzone again on a 2-point conversion attempt that gave Scotland a 28-27 win over the Bucks on Hoke’s homecoming night.
“I went down to talk to Smiley, and he was ready to go,” Bailey said. “It’s hard to stop him for less than three yards ever, so once we got inside and scored, I felt like we were just going to go ahead and go for it.”
The teams began the overtime period tied at 20-all.
In a high school overtime period, both teams are given one drive on offense, starting from the opponent’s 10-yard line. If the score remains tied after one overtime period, the procedure is repeated until there is a winner.
Hoke (0-6, 0-2 SAC) had possession first in overtime and scored on a 7-yard pass from Xavier Ford to Calvin Simpson. The Bucks’ extra point attempt was successful.
Down 27-20 and needing a score to keep the game going, the Scots put the ball in McQueen’s hands.
McQueen had missed the Scots’ last two games while recovering from an MCL sprain. Bailey said prior to the game that he would be cautious when deciding how to utilize his senior running back.
McQueen, who is still working on getting back in shape after his injury, said he was caught off-guard when Bailey called his name in overtime.
“I was shocked at first,” McQueen said. “I was sweating bullets on the sideline. When they said my name, I had to turn around a couple times. Had to get my head straight. I was like, ‘I’m really about to get in. The whole game, I’m finally getting in. It’s my time to shine for a little bit.’”
McQueen started the drive with a 6-yard rush before running into the endzone from the 4-yard line.
He then converted on another short rush to complete Scotland’s 2-point conversion attempt, silencing the homecoming crowd in Raeford and denying the Bucks a chance at their first win since Oct. 28, 2016.
“I made my team proud, that was my feeling,” McQueen said. “I told them we were going to win when I got up there, and we got there.”
Joseph “Poppa” McKoy and Darrius Dockery handled the rushing duties for Scotland (3-2, 2-0 SAC) during regulation. McKoy rushed for one touchdown and 169 yards on 22 carries, and Dockery also had a touchdown to go along with 65 yards on 13 carries.
For the Bucks, Ford had 104 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, including an 81-yard touchdown run.
Neither team was able to control the pace of the game through four quarters, as sloppy plays and penalties frequently stalled momentum swings.
Both teams scored their first points on 1-yard rushes in the first quarter. Dockery struck first to give Scotland a 7-0 lead, and Hoke’s Kyshaun Galberth evened the score with a short run of his own.
McKoy found the endzone on a 4-yard rush in the second quarter, but Scotland’s extra point attempt was blocked.
Ford found Kasheim Teller on a 28-yard touchdown pass to tie the score later in the quarter. Hoke tried to take the lead with a 2-point conversion, but the attempt failed.
With the score tied at 13-all early in the third quarter, Scotland quarterback Mandrell Johnson lost a fumble inside Hoke territory. Ford took advantage of the mistake by breaking away for an 81-yard touchdown run to give Hoke a 20-13 lead.
Johnson scored a touchdown for Scotland on a 6-yard run later in the third quarter, and a successful extra point by kicker Andrew Oswald tied the score at 20-all.
Scotland defensive back Tyshuon Thomas, who sat out the last two games while serving a suspension, logged an interception in the fourth quarter, giving the Scots the ball at their own 34-yard line with five minutes left in the game.
“I was just trying to get the ball back for the offense so they could score and get that W,” Thomas said.
After a pair of holding penalties pushed Scotland’s offense back on the ensuing drive, the Scots faced a fourth-and-23 from Hoke’s 32-yard line. The next snap sailed over Johnson’s head, but he was able to recover the ball on Hoke’s 40-yard line.
Following the turnover on downs, Scotland’s Tymere Graham sacked Ford as the final seconds of the fourth quarter ticked away, preventing the Bucks from scoring a game-winning touchdown.
The Scots continued to use two different quarterbacks- Johnson and Tyler Barfield – on Friday night. Barfield completed six of his nine passes for 48 total yards. He had one pass intercepted by Hoke’s Taiquan Owens. Johnson finished 1 for 5 for 6 yards, and also notched a touchdown and seven yards on seven carries.
Ford finished 8 for 15 for 128 yards. He had a touchdown and threw one interception.
“As I’ve said 100 times, we’re not going to beat anybody by a lot,” Bailey said. “Any game we’re going to be in is going to be a struggle. Tonight we did not play great on defense. We just didn’t. We made some plays, but we had too many breakdowns. We’re going to fix that. Our defense, I praised them all year. They played really well (in past games). “
Brandon Tester can be reached at [email protected] or 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.