RAEFORD — For the first time in Southeastern Conference play, Scotland found itself trailing at halftime.
The Fighting Scots quickly turned things around and scored the game’s final 34 points to pull away for a 34-19 victory over Hoke County.
Tra’Shawn Gregory snagged a Jaylend Ratliffe pass and turned it into a go-ahead 58-yard touchdown reception to give Scotland its first lead of the game at 20-19. Jalen McLean tacked on two fourth-quarter rushing scores for the game’s final margin.
Hoke running Detrez Newsome went over the 100-yard mark for the first time in three conference contests, running for a game-high 171 yards on 32 carries. The senior scored on runs of 1, 29 and 83 yards for the Bucks.
Scotland remains tied with Richmond atop the SEC standings with a 3-0 league mark. The Fighting Scots are now 7-1 on the season. Hoke County falls to 7-2 overall, 1-2 in the conference. The Bucks are alone in fourth in the league standings.
“In the NCAA, you always see the best teams have a game that really tests them and makes them see how tough they are,” Scotland coach Richard Bailey said to the Laurinburg Exchange. “Hoke was that game for us. While our offense did just enough to win in the end, it was our defense that really won us the game.”
The Fighting Scots will welcome Lumberton to Pate Stadium 7:30 p.m. Friday, while the Bucks will take on Purnell Swett at the same time in Raz Autry Stadium.
PINECREST 20, PURNELL SWETT 7
PEMBROKE — Pinecrest took a major step in securing an automatic playoff berth by scoring the game’s final three touchdowns to rally for a 20-7 road victory over Purnell Swett.
The Patriots improve to 2-1 in Southeastern Conference play and with two games remaining in the regular season sit alone in third place behind undefeated Richmond and Scotland. The Rams fall to 0-3 in the SEC and would need to upset Hoke County Friday to remain in the hunt for the fourth seed.
Dwayne Simpson accounted for all three touchdowns for Pinecrest in the game. Simpson connected with Levi Tew for a 46-yard score to ignite a 20-point fourth-quarter rally for the Patriots. Simpson scored on a pair of 24-yard runs to give Pinecrest the win.
“Dwayne did a great job of believing in himself and we believe in him,” Pinecrest coach Chris Metzger said to The Pilot. “Just a lot of kids stepped up and that’s what we’re going to need. I’m really proud of these kids. They said they wanted to set a footprint. Four of the last five teams qualified for the playoffs and that’s what they said they wanted to do.”
Purnell Swett scored its lone touchdown on a 65-yard fumble return by Issac Jacobs in the third quarter.
Pinecrest will travel to Raider Stadium to battle Richmond at 7:30 p.m. Friday, while Purnell Swett hits the road to face Hoke County.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.