Nov. 7—LAURINBURG — The Scotland Fighting Scots and the Southern Durham Spartans faced each other to begin the season. Now, they'll do so again, this time with both of their seasons on the line.
After the Fighting Scots won 32-29 against the Spartans on Aug. 18 on a 37-yard field goal on the final play from scrimmage, Scotland, the fifth-seed in the 3A East, will meet against Southern Durham, the No. 21 seed, once more in the second round of the state playoffs on Friday after the Spartans upset the No. 12 Eastern Alamance Eagles 36-7 in the first round.
"It does not surprise me that we're playing them," Scotland head coach Richard Bailey said. "They're a very good football team. In fact, I kind of predicted that. I did my own little bracket, and I got that one right; I predicted that Southern Durham would beat (Eastern Alamance). So, I anticipated this matchup."
In the opener between Scotland (9-2) and Southern Durham (7-4), the Scots trailed 29-21 and scored 11 points in the final 3:26 to win the game. Although they were triumphant, Bailey thought his team missed opportunities to score, which he said can't happen in this week's matchup.
"We just can't make mistakes," Bailey said. "In that game, we really should have scored two or three other times, but we shot ourselves in the foot, either with an execution problem, a penalty, a fumbled snap, a bad miscommunication of what was spoken — mistakes I don't see us making as much recently. And so, as long as we clean up some of that, I think we'll be okay.
"The other thing is they started putting more people in the box ... like everybody does against us. We've got to be able to complete some passes, and we've got to be able to utilize our skill guys on the edge with (Quatavius Everette) and (Dajuan Gibson) and those guys. We missed a few Friday night. We've got to hit those plays to keep people honest. That'll definitely be something we focus on."
Going against a Southern Durham defense that, since the first game, hasn't allowed more than 27 points to an opponent and is averaging just 4.3 points allowed in its last six will be the hurdle Scotland's offense will have to overcome, though.
In the regular season, linebacker Kristopher Watson totaled a team-high 99 tackles (44 solo), with 16 for loss and four sacks; defensive lineman Christopher "Isaiah" Campbell had 89 tackles (36 solo) and led the Spartans with 24 tackles for loss and 15 sacks; and defensive back Khalil Coath had four interceptions to top that category for the team.
Campbell is one of several players for the Spartans being recruited by NCAA Division I football programs.
"They're very good on defense," Bailey said. "They play a lot of guys both ways, so we need to wear them out a little bit. Some of their D-linemen also play O-line, so I think we've got to make sure that we're making them work on both sides of the ball as much as possible."
Offensively, quarterback Jordan McClure has been the starter for the Spartans all season but isn't the only field general playing. Freshman QB Tyson Broadway split time throughout the regular season with McClure and accounted for more passing yards and touchdowns than McClure in 35 fewer attempts.
Broadway was 64-of-83 passing for 1,216 yards and 11 touchdowns with only one interception and rushed for 276 yards and three TDs on 19 attempts, while McClure was 76-of-118 passing for 1,035 yards, 13 total TDs (four rushing), four interceptions, and 152 rushing yards on 23 carries.
Broadway was the Spartans' JV QB earlier this year against the JV Scots when both teams tied 22-22 on Aug. 17.
"One of the only games (JV) didn't win this year is because that kid was quarterbacking their JV squad," Bailey said. "That kid's very talented. The actual senior (McClure) played more against Eastern Alamance than the freshman did, but they've both been playing, and both are good players. They're very similar in how they play, which is a good thing. That way, you don't have to really plan differently for one than the other."
Another positive for Bailey and the Scots is that Southern Durham doesn't have as much of a run threat as their first-round opponent, No. 28 Rocky Mount, who the Scots beat 48-23 last Friday.
Running back Dayston Moore was Southern Durham's top rusher in the regular season with 34 carries for 325 yards and seven TDs; RB Jalen McKee had 35 rushes for 265 yards and five TDs, and RB Elijah Baldwin tallied 30 carries for 244 yards and one score.
None of them played against Scotland in August, however. The Spartans mainly used McClure to run the ball in that game, as he finished with nine rushes for 58 yards.
"Their only running game they had the first game was (McClure) scrambling," Bailey said. "So, we've got to find a way to contain the quarterback much better than we did in the first game. We've got to find ways to pressure him a little more. We played a lot of coverage in that first game and didn't get a lot of pressure. I think we've got to change that up a little bit; be a little bit more diversified on defense. But we've got to contain the quarterback better."
Wide receiver Amir Hall, who had seven receptions for 108 yards and a TD against the Scots in the first go-around, led the team in receiving yards with 646, receptions with 27, and receiving TDs with seven before the postseason. Justin Baskerville, one of the team's top receivers last season, had missed six games since a Sep. 1 contest against Williams but returned to action on Oct. 27 against Carrboro. Baskerville had seven catches for 103 yards and two TDs in the season opener against the Scots.
"They like to throw the ball," Bailey said. "They're probably about 60% pass, 40% run, or somewhere in that neighborhood. A little more balanced than we are. But they're definitely committed to throwing the football."
Southern Durham is currently on a six-game win streak. Since Sep. 22, the Spartans have defeated 2A/3A Northern Lakes Conference opponents J.F. Webb, South Granville, Louisburg, Granville Central, and Carrboro. Southern Durham shutout Hillside 14-0 in Week 2 to claim their first win before losing to Williams, Wake Forest, and Vance County the following three weeks.
Friday's game between Southern Durham and Scotland begins at 7:30 p.m. at Pate Stadium. The winner will advance to the third round and face the winner of No. 4 Southern Nash and No. 13 Northern Nash.