LAURINBURG — And now it’s down two.
After the Southeastern Conference placed five teams into this season’s football playoffs, only Richmond Senior and Scotland remain standing as teams head into the third round.
Lumberton and Pinecrest were eliminated in the opening round of the 4AA Mideast pod by Jack Britt and Hoke County, respectively. The Bucks were knocked out last week by the Buccaneers.
Richmond, the top seed in the pod, stopped Cary in the first round before cruising past Fuquay-Varina to set up a showdown with Jack Britt tonight.
Scotland, on the other hand, garnered the No. 1 seed in the 4A Mideast pod and breezed to wins over East Chapel Hill and Lee County. The Fighting Scots will play host to the pod’s second seed, E.E. Smith, at 7:30 p.m. today.
The rest of the playoff schedule featuring teams from the 4AA and 4A level include: Garner, 4AA East pod’s top seed, will battle third-seeded Leesville Road. In the Midwest pod, No. 1 seed Butler will face off against East Forsyth, while Mallard Creek will take on Olympic in a contest of the top two teams in the West pod. On the 4A level, New Hanover will look to avenge its only loss this season against the East pod’s top squad — New Bern. In the Midwest pod, No. 1 seed North Davidson will face Mount Tabor, the seventh seed. Sun Valley, the fifth seed in the West pod, will try to upset second-seeded Porter Ridge.
E.E. Smith at Scotland
Coaches: Duran McLaurin, E.E. Smith. Richard Bailey, Scotland.
Records: E.E. Smith 11-1. Scotland 11-1.
Last game: E.E. Smith trailed by 14 points at the end of the first quarter, its largest deficit of the season, before rallying for a 54-36 victory over Southeast Guilford. Running back Sulamian Mustafaa rushed for a game-high 158 yards and three touchdowns for the Golden Bulls. For the second straight contest, Scotland jumped out to a big first-half lead and cruised past its playoff opponent. This time it was Lee County that was on the wrong side of the scoreboard, falling 56-27.
Key matchup: E.E. Smith’s offense vs. Scotland’s defense. It took a quarter, but once E.E. Smith’s playmakers got going against Southeast Guilford, they scored in bunches. Running back Sulamian Mustafaa dashed for 158 yards and three scores, while quarterback Phillip Bell ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns. The senior threw for another 180 yards and two scores. For the season, Bell has thrown for 1,823 yards and 18 touchdowns, while rushing for a team-highs in both yardage and touchdowns — 1,326 yards and 19 scores. Bell is averaging just over 262 yards of total offense per game. Scotland can also score points in bunches, but its calling card all season has been its defense. The Fighting Scots have outscored the opposition 89-3 in the first half of their two postseason games. Even though the Yellow Jackets ended up posting 27 points last week, the majority of those came with Scotland’s starters on the sideline. For the defending 4A champions to continue their drive to repeat, they will need another strong effort from the defense.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.