ROCKINGHAM — All three Southeastern Conference football teams who made it to the state playoffs advanced to the second round after defeating their respective opponents last Friday.
Richmond Senior forced five turnovers in its 28-14 win over Millbrook, Pinecrest used a fast start to take down Leesville Road by a score of 42-21 and Scotland scored six of its seven touchdowns on the ground in a 47-8 rout of New Bern.
The three SEC teams combined for 17 touchdowns and 117 points in the first round, with an average margin of victory of 24.7 points.
“I think it says a lot about the quality in our conference,” Richmond head coach Mike Castellano said. “Coaches congratulated us for going 3-0 in the first round. That says a lot about the quality of teams and players that we have in the conference.”
Richmond Raiders (9-3)
In its first-round matchup, the Raiders scored 28 consecutive points after giving up the game’s first touchdown in the second quarter.
Steven Jones’ 60-yard interception return right before the half gave Richmond some momentum and quarterback Leon Zeigler used the spark to his advantage — throwing three touchdown passes in the last 24 minutes. Richmond’s defense recovered three fumbles and intercepted another pass in the second half.
“Anytime you can get a turnover or a three-and-out, you put yourself in a position to be successful,” Castellano said after Friday’s game. “Our goal was to have a minimum of five (turnovers) or 10 total — turnovers and three-and-outs. We probably didn’t get 10, but the turnovers definitely did help.”
Richmond travels to Garner (11-1), who shutout Green Hope in the opening round, this Friday, Nov. 25.
“I expect a very good football team. One who’s going to run downhill at you, put pressure on you and play a lot of zero coverage,” Castellano added. “They have a lot of talented guys.
Pincrest Patriots (10-2)
Quarterback Nik Pry’s 80-yard touchdown pass to receiver Chris Owens was the first of four scores for Pinecrest in the opening quarter of its first-round game.
Pry completed 10 of his 19 passes for 155 yards and running back Malyke Justice carried the ball 13 times for 94 rushing yards and two touchdowns, while the Patriots’ defensive unit scored twice on the night — JT Adams (36-yard interception return) and Shymeik Reeves (23-yard fumble return).
“I don’t think people realize how big and physical they are,” Castellano explained. “You have to play disciplined against them. I expect them to make a deep run this year.”
Pinecrest will host Wake Forest Heritage (10-2), who escaped Holly Springs last Friday, in the second round.
Scotland Scots (12-0)
Running backs Zamir White, Shyheam McQueen, Davon Ratliffe and Khalil Smith all found the end zone at least once in Scotland’s victory over New Bern — a team it has faced in the playoffs four times in the last seven seasons.
The Scots, who are competing in the 4A Bracket, remained unbeaten thanks to three rushing touchdowns from White. McQueen, Ratliffe and Smith each scored once against New Bern. Scotland’s other score came on a pass from quarterback Sergio Gibson to receiver Alston Smith in the third quarter.
Scotland now prepares for its second-round bout against Southeast Raleigh (9-3), who upset Seventy-First in the opening round.
“I think Scotland has chance to win a state championship,” Castellano said. “They have two Division I running backs, a quarterback who can run and they’re very strong upfront and at linebacker. I expect them to get healthy, for their sake, and play for state championship.”
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Both Richmond Senior and Scotland advanced past the first round of the state playoffs with wins over Millbrook and New Bern, respectively. The Raiders will travel to Garner this Friday, while the Scots will host Southeast Raleigh in the second round.