ROCKINGHAM — Everyone in Raider Stadium expected a little “Raider Magic” to aid Richmond Senior against Scotland — it never came.
Instead the Fighting Scots relied on the legs of sophomore quarterback Jaylend Ratliffe to stake their claim to a second straight Southeastern Conference with a 21-14 victory over the Raiders Friday night.
Ratliffe darted 25 yards up the middle of the Richmond defense with 2:58 left in the game. Ratliffe finished with 141 rushing yards on 24 carries.
The win marked the first time Scotland has defeated Richmond in back-to-back contests since the 1994 season, when the Fighting Scots won twice that year to push their winning streak to four consecutive games.
In addition, it was Scotland coach Richard Bailey’s first victory over Richmond in 10 tries.
“I was teasing with Paul (Hoggard) before the game to let me win this one because he got the 2008 state championship game over me,” the former Jack Britt coach said. “It feels good getting the monkey, well it felt more like a 500-pound gorilla, off my back.
“This doesn’t take away the sting of losing a state championship, but to get my first win against them for a conference championship feels pretty good. And to do it on their home field is even more special.”
The Fighting Scots took advantage of four Richmond turnovers — three fumbles and an interception — and converted those into two touchdown runs from Jalen McLean. The senior opened the scoring with a 34-yard run and added a 1-yard dive in the third quarter.
Following Ratliffe’s go-ahead score, the Raiders had two chances to try and force overtime. The first drive ended with 1:19 remaining in the contest when Brent Flowers fumbled, which was recovered by Scotland’s Ed Cain, on a second-and-10 play from the Scotland 44.
On their last possession of the night, Flowers’ pass short-hopped Trent Bostick on fourth-and-2 from the Fighting Scots’ 45, allowing Scotland to take one snap from the Victory formation to clinch the win.
“I told the players before the game that the team which wants it the most and makes the fewest mistakes will win,” Hoggard said. “You can’t make as many mistakes as we did against a good team and expect to win. I thought we wanted to win as bad as they did, we had too many turnovers.”
Despite the turnovers and being flagged for 12 penalties, the Raiders (9-1, 4-1) still had moments when it appeared they would keep it close and let “Raider Magic” help out.
After being pinned deep in its own territory midway through the second quarter, Richmond was forced to punt the ball back to Scotland on fourth-and-2 from its own 8. However, on the punt, the Fighting Scots were called for roughing the punter, extending the drive.
The Raiders would take advantage of the new set of downs as Kole Stanley leaped over Scotland’s Ryan Leak to reel in a 35-yard touchdown reception on fourth-and-15 to cap a 15-play, 96-yard drive which took nearly 6 1/2 minutes off the clock.
And until Cox’s touchdown tied the contest at 14, Scotland’s defense held Richmond at bay. The Raiders finished with 318 yards of total offense and 31 points below their season average.
Both schools will await today’s announcement of the state playoff brackets. Richmond will be placed in the 4AA bracket, while Scotland is expected to drop to the 4A.
“This will be a test to see how we bounce next week,” Hoggard said. “The good thing with the playoffs is we have another week. We have a good football team.”
In other action in the SEC, Hoke County finished third in the standings with its 35-7 win over Pinecrest, while Lumberton kept its faint playoff hopes alive following a 42-18 victory over Purnell Swett.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.