LUMBERTON — Richard Bailey knew his team could play better.
He’d seen it a week prior.
Coming off an emphatic 75-point outburst against Pinecrest, unbeaten Scotland didn’t deliver its usual effort during last week’s win over Hoke on its quest toward a top seed in the 4A state playoffs.
The state’s second-ranked team and defending Southeastern Conference champion let the struggling Bucks hang around in Laurinburg after three uncharacteristic turnovers inside their own 20-yard line led to 17 first-half points.
On Thursday night at Lumberton, Bailey’s dominant squad returned to form and came out with precise focus behind a dynamic ground game to place the SEC’s only winless team into an early submission.
“We had a lackluster win last week and the environment wasn’t quite what you want, kind of dead,” Bailey said. “I was proud of our offense (tonight). I think we scored on every possession with our (starters) in there besides a missed field goal. It was a weird Thursday deal but we did well.”
Scotland’s 42-0 win over the Pirates was its 10th straight to open the season and 22nd in 24 games since Bailey took over for Chip Williams as coach in May 2012. The victory sets up a highly-anticipated conference title game showdown with Richmond next week should the Raiders take care of business tonight in Southern Pines.
“We put ourselves in position and did what we were supposed to do,” Bailey said. “We’ve gotten to this point undefeated. There’s a lot at stake and if nothing was at stake, it would still be a big game.”
Jaylend Ratliffe led the Scots on four consecutive scoring drives in the first half before Lumberton finally held on the fifth series. The junior quarterback has offers from several ACC programs and with his 200-yard effort against the Pirates, upped his total offense total to 2,329 yards this season.
Ratliffe was at his best when Lumberton keyed on McPhatter and Quadrin Williams as he escaped linebackers at the line of scrimmage for multiple big gains off the Scots’ zone-read.
Scotland’s first-team defense did the rest of the work, limiting the Pirates to 214 total yards and three interceptions including a 40-yard pick six in the fourth quarter from Monley on an underthrown pass in the flats.
“We control how we play and we have to stay focused,” said the Shrine Bowl corner who tallied two picks and a touchdown run. “We can play even better on defense if we stick to our keys.”
Ratliffe scored his 18th rushing touchdown of the season on the Scots’ second possession after making a defensive back miss around the left end on a 10-yard burst to the corner. A fake punt on 4th-and-5 in the second quarter backfired for the Pirates two possessions later as Scotland snuffed out a direct snap to Demetri Sheridan for no gain.
The Scots cashed in on the short field inside the 20 when Monley took a jet sweep 13 yards to the end zone.
Lumberton (0-10, 0-4) stalled twice inside Scotland’s 20 and struggled in third down situations defensively against the SEC’s most prolific offense.
Lumberton officials moved the game up a day to avoid expected rain in Friday’s forecast, but Pirates senior linebacker Timmy Benson said the short week with little preparation time had no effect on his team’s performance.
The Pirates will try and avoid their first winless season in nine years next week at Purnell Swett in the Backyard Brawl. Struggling in their own right, the Rams are 2-7 this season and host Hoke tonight.
“We know what adversity is unlike a team that’s 9-0,” Benson said. “We’ve got to stick together this week and build this team up for the future. That’s what the seniors have to do. We’ll have to play our best game to beat Swett.”
Reach staff writer Brad Crawford at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MrPalmettoSDS.
Scotland 42, Lumberton 0
Scotland 14 14 7 7 — 0
Lumberton 0 0 0 0 — 0
SCOT — Josh McPhatter 2 run (Ben Utter kick)
SCOT — Jaylend Ratliffe 10 run (Utter kick)
SCOT — Ratliffe 2 run (Utter kick)
SCOT — Trejon Monley 13 run (Utter kick)
SCOT — Ratliffe 9 run (Utter kick)
SCOT — Monley 40 interception return (Utter kick)
PASSING — SCOT: Ratliffe 9-15-1-111. LHS: Foley 19-31-3-157.
RUSHING — SCOT: McPhatter 15-109, Williams 10-62, Ratliffe 9-89. LHS: Henderson 12-29, Sheridan 7-28.
RECEIVING — SCOT: Hatcher 5-49, Monley 2-40. LHS: Carpenter 4-26, Sheridan 1-40.
RECORDS — Scotland 10-0, 4-0; Lumberton 0-10, 0-4.