LAURINBURG — Friday is almost here.
The long-awaited tilt between Southeastern Conference powers Scotland and Pinecrest is just around the corner.
While both teams have been tested this season — Scotland by Marlboro County and Jack Britt, and Pinecrest by Virginia’s Woodberry Forest — Friday night is a measuring-stick game for a pair of programs that are legitimate contenders for a North Carolina state championship.
The clash at the end of the week will mark the first time the Scots and Patriots have lined up on opposite sides of the line of scrimmage since their epic battle in Southern Pines last season. Scotland narrowly escaped with a 29-22 win, improving Richard Bailey’s record to 3-0 against Pinecrest since he was named the Scots’ head coach in 2012.
Before Scotland and Pinecrest take the field against one another for the latest chapter in this budding rivalry, it’s time to examine the previous meetings between the two powerhouses dating back to Bailey’s hire three years ago.
2012 — Scotland 34, Pinecrest 11
As has become a trend in recent years, the Scots have gotten the better of the Patriots in the early part of games and that was no different in their matchup three seasons ago in Southern Pines.
Scotland jumped out to a 20-0 lead in the first quarter and led 27-3 at halftime en route to the victory.
The Scots recovered three fumbles and also intercepted one pass, and built the early lead thanks to big plays on defense and special teams. At one point in the second quarter, linebacker Artemis Robinson took the direct snap out of a punt formation and ran for a 54-yard touchdown, all but ending the game before the break. Robinson, who also had 15 tackles, was a big reason why Scotland defense held Pinecrest to less than 100 yards at halftime.
Five different Scotland players scored touchdowns, including quarterback Jaylend Ratliffe who had 58 yards passing and 68 on the ground. Jalen McLean rushed for 50 yards and a score on ten carries.
2013 — Scotland 75, Pinecrest 28
The buildup to the 2013 matchup in Laurinburg was different than any of the previous iterations between the Scots and Patriots.
Both teams came into the game undefeated, and Pinecrest, a program that won five games the year before, wanted to prove that it was a legitimate threat to contend for the SEC title.
And although the Patriots went on to win 11 games that season, Scotland showed it would take more than a pesky upstart to supplant its two-year reign at the top of the conference.
Just as they did the year before, the Scots built a huge early lead and never looked back, scoring 26 points by the end of the first quarter and a mind-boggling 61 before halftime while dominating every facet of the game. At the break, the scoreboard read 61-0 — a resounding statement to the Pinecrest program that it was still a long ways away from contending with the SEC powers.
Scotland racked up 225 passing yards and 260 more on the ground, and Jaylend Ratliffe scored four total touchdowns. The Scots’ defense forced three turnovers, returning an interception and a fumble for a score, and sacked Pinecrest quarterback Christian Ledbetter five times. Scotland even blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown.
2014 — Scotland 29, Pinecrest 22
Last year’s meeting in Southern Pines was a coming out party of sorts for coach Chris Metzger and his Patriots.
Pinecrest finished second in the SEC in 2013 and scored a win over Richmond, but the Patriots’ accomplishments on the field were somewhat diluted because of one result: the 75-28 loss to Scotland.
That score was the talk of the town in Southern Pines all week leading up to game. Pinecrest was undefeated once again heading into its matchup with the Scots — would history repeat itself?
The Patriots’ answer was an emphatic ‘no’ despite falling behind 9-0 after the first quarter. Scotland was knocking at the goal line for another score when Patriots linebacker Carson Maples forced a fumble and returned it 96 yards for a touchdown. Pinecrest scored again before halftime to take a 14-9 lead at the break.
The Scots regained the lead in the third quarter, but Pinecrest took it right back after scoring a touchdown with 10:36 remaining in the game. Scotland’s freshman running back Zamir White tied the game a minute later, then after both teams traded punts for a couple of series, White scored the go-ahead 46-yard touchdown on a 3rd-and-7 play with 1:20 remaining.
Scotland’s defense recorded a pair of sacks to preserve the win, breaking the hearts of a Pinecrest team that was a play or two away from defeating the Scots for the first time since 2009.
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.