Defense dominates in scrimmage
Scotland’s defense did not want to let the offensive players onto the field during Tuesday’s scrimmage. The defensive Scots stayed on the field for much longer than their offensive counterparts thanks to back-to-back interceptions returned for touchdowns as the Scots rolled over Northern Durham in the season’s first scrimmage.
The game, which ended up being played under the lights at Pate Stadium after lighting delayed the start of the full scrimmage for about an hour and a half, ended 24-0 in favor of Scotland, although the score was not officially kept and no extra points were kicked.
The two sides spent the first forty minutes of the evening running plays with both the JV and varsity teams. After that, the field was cleared and the varsity sides prepared to face off and try to drive down the field. Right before Northern could take the first snap, lightning struck in the distance and the players and coaches had to retreat to the locker rooms and wait for the storm to pass.
By the time it did, the lights were on and the teams were as close to playing in an actual game as they have been in a long time. This was the first time the Scots had been able to tackle another team.
Scotland’s defense was dominate from the start. Robert McKoy intercepted the pass on Northern’s second play of the game, setting a tone for the game, The Scots forced a turnover on downs on Northern’s second possession, and since the scrimmage did not feature any special teams the ball was simply moved to the opposite 30-yard line. Kenneth Leggett nabbed a pass on Northern’s third possession and returned it 30 yards to the end zone as well. Then, four plays later, McKoy collected his second pick of the night and another score as he ran it back from 35 yards out.
Scotland coach Richard Bailey said the defense played as expected.
“Our defense did really well but I kind of anticipated that. The guys that I thought would do good, did good,” Bailey said.
The Scots wasted no time on offense either. After taking over on Northern’s 30-yard line from McKoy’s first interception, coach Richard Bailey decided to go right to the end zone. Jaylend Ratliffe dropped back and threw to Logan Hatcher near the goal line. He tipped the ball to himself and caught it as he was falling down to give Scotland its first score.
Ratliffe was instrumental in scoring the Scots other offensive touchdown on their next possession. After an incomplete pass and a stuffed run, Ratliffe rolled to the right side, turned the corner and left everyone behind him as he ran 70 yards for a touchdown.
Despite the impressive play, Bailey said there were several mistakes made that the team will work on correcting once they sit down and watch film from the scrimmage.
“We did some things that we can’t do on a real Friday night. We’ll look at film. On the long Ratliffe had, coach (Rodney) Quick said we missed like every block,” Bailey said. “But that’s just the advantage of having a great athlete.”
Ratliffe went just 1-2 on the evening, with the 30-yard touchdown pass and the 70-yard rushing score.
Backup quarterback Jaleel McLean got to lead Scotland’s offense for its final two possessions. He found moderate success with his scrambling abilities, although often it was as a result of a broken play. Bailey said McLean, who transferred to Scotland this summer, just needs to continue adjusting to the intensity level.
“He did good. He was functional and he did a lot of good things for us,” Bailey said. “He’s just got to get confident and a little bit better understanding. There were too many times basic plays were called the wrong way. But he was able to use his athleticism to scramble and get yards.”
Scrimmages are not always the best test for a team’s offense, as coaches are apt to keep the good plays hidden away until the regular season.
“There were lots of things we don’t want to put on film, so we were just being vanilla as we can and boring,” Bailey said.
The Scots scrimmage again on Friday when they take on Rocky River High School at 6 p.m.
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