When junior running back Josh McPhatter led his fellow Fighting Scots onto the field for the first time, it signaled the start of the most anticipated Scotland season in recent memory. All of the hype, questions and gossip surrounding the defending 4-A state champions could finally be put to rest as fans packed Pate Stadium for the Scots’ regular season opener against Seventy First.
And then the storm came.
A single lightning strike delayed Friday night’s action for 30 minutes, but then the prospects of restarting the game dwindled to zero as the storm gained in intensity.
But even in their limited time on the field, the Fighting Scots looked wholly impressive as they opened up a 13-0 lead over the Falcons.
In the opening minutes of the first quarter, the Fighting Scots looked eerily similar to last season’s team on both sides of the football.
The offense took the field first after an attempted squib kick from the Falcons, and on the very first play, senior running back Jalen McLean took an outside sweep for 17 yards right into Falcons territory. After connecting with Tyron Jones for a 16 yard pass, starting quarterback Jaylend Ratliffe demonstrated his dual-threat potential with an 11-yard touchdown quarterback keeper to put the Fighting Scots up with just over 10 minutes left in the quarter.
The scoring drive was a seamless five-play, 57 yard series that yielded three consecutive first downs.
At the start of the season, Scotland head coach Richard Bailey declared senior inside linebacker Chris Moss as one of the key factors for the defense’s success in 2012. And as Falcons rusher Marques Lock took the first offensive snap of the Seventy First season, it was a wraparound tackle from Moss that forced a fumble, which was promptly recovered by Scots’ sophomore safety Robert McCoy on the Falcon’s 27-yard line.
Lock would bounce back from the fumble on the Scots’ ensuing possession, breaking through Scotland’s offensive line to sack Ratliffe for a five-yard loss. But after regaining much of the lost yardage on another quarterback option, Ratliffe rifled a slant pass to wide receiver Justin Brown, who caught the ball in full stride and powered his way into the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown.
Ratliffe looked extremely comfortable running the offense in the early goings, completing three of four passes for 47 yards with a passing and rushing touchdown.
Weather would then suspend the game shortly thereafter at the 8:26 minute mark in the first quarter.
Play between the Scots and Falcons is set to resume at 5:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon at Pate Stadium. For in-depth coverage of the game, check back in Tuesday’s edition of the Laurinburg Exchange.