Lumberton (4-5, 0-4) saw three of its starters exit the game with injury within the game’s first four minutes, and the Pirates were unable to recover as the Fighting Scots (8-1, 4-0) delivered a convincing 35-7 win at Pate Stadium.
The Pirates racked up more than 31 minutes of possession time, but finished the night with just 194 offensive yards, including 79 on their only scoring drive of the night after Scotland County had emptied most of its bench.
The loss sets up a do-or-die home game next week for the Pirates against rival Purnell Swett. A Lumberton loss dashes its playoff hopes while a win would solidify a wild-card playoff berth. What’s more, next Friday’s Backyard Brawl — which will leave one county team winless in SEC play — could be Brill’s last game as a high school coach if the Pirates were to fall to the Rams.
“We lost our full back in the first five minutes, and then we lost one of our running backs for the year,” Brill said. “I was down to three running backs tonight and that changed everything I could possibly do. Our kids had heart and kept playing though. The injury bug has just been killing us all year.”
Demetri Sheridan rushed for 110 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown on 23 carries to pace the Pirates, who also got 33 yards from Frankie Dickerson and 29 more from Ahmad Smith. Quarterback Jez Deese finished with just two pass attempts, completing one for a 3-yard gain.
Meanwhile, Scotland County scored on each of its first three drives in the second half to turn a somewhat close game into a rout. TraShawn Gregory finished his night with five catches for 117 yards and two scores, while quarterback Jaylend Ratliffe threw for 144 yards and two touchdowns on 6-of-12 passing. Jalen McLean added 96 rushing yards.
Lumberton had the game’s first chance to light the scoreboard after the Fighting Scots fumbled the ball away deep in their own territory on the game’s opening possession. But the Pirates drove just 13 yards in six plays before Deese’s desperation pass on fourth down fell incomplete. The Pirates trailed 14-0 heading into halftime thanks to big plays by the Scotland County offense.
“We could have scored in the first quarter, but I didn’t feel comfortable enough sending out a first-year field goal kicker,” Brill said. “They are good and they are better than us, especially when we have had so many injuries this season.”
The Fighting Scots needed just three plays and 34 seconds to score a touchdown on their opening drive of the second half, and then added two more touchdown drives over the next six minutes to build the advantage out to 35-0. The Pirates would spoil the shutout midway through the fourth quarter, however, when Sheridan’s 3-yard touchdown dive capped off a 14-play, 79-yard scoring drive that took nearly 10 minutes off the clock.