LUMBERTON — It may only be Week 2 of the Southeastern Conference schedule, but for two teams this is a must-win contest.
Last Friday, Hoke County traveled to Rockingham to face Richmond Senior in a “Battle of the Unbeatens.” The Bucks limped away with their first loss on the season. The Raiders tattooed a 49-14 beatdown on the visitors in which they played without their best offensive weapon, Dakwa Nichols, and having their best receiver only grab one pass for five yards.
Lumberton, like Hoke, had high expectations heading into its SEC opener at Pinecrest because the Pirates had not lost to the Patriots since 1993. Four turnovers later and Lumberton was shutout for the second time this season, falling 24-0. Lumberton could be without Daniel Robinson this week. The team’s leading rusher left the Pinecrest contest in the first half with a knee injury.
Hoke County at Lumberton
Coaches: Milton Butts, Hoke County. Mike Brill, Lumberton.
Records: Hoke County 6-1, 0-1. Lumberton 4-2, 0-1.
Last game: After leading Hoke County to a 6-0 mark for the first time in school history, Detrez Newsome and the Bucks came crashing back to earth against Richmond Senior. The Raiders limited the Bucks to 137 yards of total offense, while Newsome rushed for just 39 yards on 18 carries. Lumberton coach Mike Brill thought his squad dominated every facet of the contest against Pinecrest except where it counted — the scoreboard. The Pirates were shutout for the second time this season as the Patriots took advantage of four turnovers to post a 24-0 victory.
Key matchup: Hoke County’s rushing attack vs. Lumberton’s rushing attack. Detrez Newsome and Daniel Robinson are statistically two of the best running backs in the Southeastern Conference, but both struggled in their league openers. Newsome found very little room to run against Richmond Senior, finishing with 39 yards on 18 touches. Robinson was knocked out of the Pinecrest game early and ran six times for 31 yards. Newsome has been feast or famine against Lumberton in his career. As a sophomore, filling in for an injured Christian Russell, Newsome rushed for 228 yards and two touchdowns in a 21-17 loss. Last year, the Pirates limited Newsome to just 10 yards in a 30-20 victory. If Hoke County can get Newsome going early, it could be a long night for Lumberton.
Scotland at Pinecrest
Coaches: Richard Bailey, Scotland. Chris Metzger, Pinecrest.
Records: Scotland 5-1, 1-0. Pinecrest 4-3, 1-0.
Last game: Scotland began the defense of its Southeastern Conference championship in a big way with a 42-0 victory over Purnell Swett. The Fighting Scots jumped out to a 28-0 first-quarter lead and cruised the rest of the way. Quarterback Jaylend Ratliffe got things started early with a 4-yard touchdown run before hooking up with Tra’Shawn Gregory for a 35-yard scoring strike. Pinecrest forced four Lumberton turnovers and started its conference slate with a 24-0 victory. It was the Patriots’ first win over the Pirates since the 1993 season. It was also Pinecrest’s first shutout since blanking St. Pauls on Sept. 24, 2010.
Key matchup: Scotland’s defense vs. Pinecrest’s offense. The SEC’s best scoring defense improved on that stat against Purnell Swett in the conference opener last week. Scotland blanked the Rams to lower its points allowed per game average to 8.5. The Fighting Scots’ run defense will be put to the test by Pinecrest’s Veer attack. The Patriots are averaging 26.2 points a contest behind the rushing of quarterback Dwayne Simpson and running back Justin Sengkhenpong. Simpson scored twice against Lumberton on a pair of 2-yard runs, while Sengkhenpong added a 15-yard touchdown rush in the victory.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.