LAURINBURG — The Raiders scored 47 more points on Friday than they did in last season’s finale, but those seven touchdowns still weren’t enough to snap the now seven-game losing streak to Scotland.
In a showdown at Pate Stadium, in front of a packed house, freshman quarterback Caleb Hood and senior running back Dante Miller led Richmond’s effort with a combined 626 total yards of offense. Hood threw for 423 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 14 yards. Miller finished with 124 yards and three touchdowns on the ground and caught four passes for 65 yards.
But when the final seconds ticked off the clock, it was the Scots who grabbed the 69-47 victory behind a combined 520 rushing yards from senior quarterback Warren Bell (210) and senior running back Zamir White (310). Bell finished with three rushing touchdowns and White tallied four scores on the ground.
“We knew what was coming — they only had about 23-25 yards passing — but you’ve still got to be able to stop it,” head coach Bryan Till said. “Those guys (Bell and White) are so shifty, have such great vision and are so patient back there. Once they put their foot in the ground, they can go at any time.”
Both teams came out firing on all cylinders.
Scotland (9-1, 7-0 SAC) started with great field position after senior Khalil Smith broke free on the opening kickoff and returned the ball to the Richmond 43-yard line. On the second play from scrimmage, following junior Shyheam McQueen’s 13-yard run, White took his first carry of the night 30 yards for the game’s first score.
Richmond (7-4, 5-2 SAC) wasn’t rattled by the early score, though, and responded quickly with a four-play drive. Hood connected with senior wideout Da’Shaun Wallace (7 catches, 132 yards, 2 TDs) for a 30-yard gain, Miller pushed forward for 10 yards, junior wide receiver Malik Stanback (7 catches, 154 yards, 1 TD) caught a 12-yard strike and the Miller capped the possession off with an eight-yard push.
Four more touchdowns would be scored before the first quarter ended, as Bell found the end zone on a six-yard keeper, White broke a tackle on his way to a 33-yard touchdown, Hood found Wallace from 25 yards out and then White returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for his third score.
At the end of the opening period, Scotland held a 27-14 lead.
The Raiders were able to tie the game up with only 30 seconds left in the second quarter — thanks to Miller’s 14-yard score and Hood’s touchdown pass to Stanback — but a 34-yard run from White and a defensive pass interference call gave Scotland the chance to take back the lead before halftime.
And that’s exactly what the home team did, as Bell scrambled out of the pocket and found sophomore receiver Bruce Wall in the back of the end zone with no time left on the clock. The Scots went into the break with a 34-27 advantage.
“If we don’t give up the kickoff-return touchdown or the touchdown at the end (of the second half), it’s a different ball game,” Till said. “There were some plays here and there, and we’ve just got to make those plays.”
Richmond got the ball to open the second half, because they deferred after winning the coin toss, but nothing was going for them and they were forced to punt the ball away. Both teams would trade scores from that point on.
Bell had a 42-yard touchdown run on fourth down, Miller scored his third and final touchdown from five yards out, Bell spun off a tackle and raced 61 yards for another score, Hood hooked up with senior tight end Gordon Pihl for a 12-yard score and then White bullied his way across the goal line from the two-yard line.
Although White’s two-yard touchdown put Scotland ahead 56-40 with 8:04 to go in the game, senior linebacker Marqwues Wilson’s interception — which he returned for 15 yards for a touchdown — essentially sealed the deal for the Scots.
Hood and Wallace would connect for one more Raider score nearly a minute later, a 28-yarder, before White capped the night off with a six-yard dive into the end zone.
“I think the energy from our kids playing together was good. I’m extremly proud of that. But physically, in the second half, they wore us down,” Till said.
With the win, Scotland grabbed its seventh consecutive conference title — the inaugural Sandhills Athletic Conference championship. Richmond secured the No. 2 spot in the conference’s final standings, despite the loss, because of Jack Britt’s loss to Seventy-First.
The Raiders will more than likely have a home game in the first round of the NCHSAA 4AA State Playoffs, which begins next next week, and will find out their opponent this afternoon.
“It’s tough, but we’ve got to put this behind us,” Till added. “The big focus right now should be taking care of our bodies all weekend.”
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Richmond’s Dante Miller gets tackled by Scotland’s Marqwues Wilson (3) late in Friday night’s game at Pate Stadium. Miller would finish with 124 yards and three touchdowns on the night.
Caleb Hood (5) throws a pass to Da’Shaun Wallace (13) late in the fourth quarter. Hood and Wallace hooked up seven times on the night, with two of the completions going for touchdowns.