Published: 11:49 PM, Fri Nov 23, 2012
New Bern downs Scotland, 23-6
NEW BERN - Late in the third quarter of Scotland's game at New Bern on Friday night, the Scots had a disjointed moment in which kicker Ben Utter's punt was inadvertently blocked by a member of his own punt protection.
"We blocked it ourselves," coach Richard Bailey said. "I don't know how that happened. We just couldn't get out of our own way tonight."
With dreadful play littering the Scots' night, the defending 4-A state champions fell prey to the Bears in the Eastern Regional final, losing 23-6 to end their season.
The Bears (14-0) exacted revenge for last year's 61-28 regional loss suffered at the hands of the Scots in Laurinburg. New Bern will meet 2011 state runner-up Porter Ridge (13-1) for the 4-A title Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m. at UNC's Kenan Stadium.
The Scots lost three fumbles - two deep in Bear territory - in Friday's loss, the most crucial coming in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.
Trailing 16-6, the Scots ended the third with a dazzling 57-yard run by Jalen McLean to gain first-and-10 at the Bear 26. A second run by McLean and an illegal substitution by New Bern gave the Scots first-and-5 at the New Bern 8.
Quarterback Jaylend Ratliffe opted to hand the ball off on the next play to rusher Josh McPhatter, who surged through the defensive line before the ball was stripped, giving the Bears possession at the 2.
A New Bern 98-yard scoring drive followed, putting the game out of reach at 23-6 with 4:31 left to play.
That cross-field run helped make McLean the night's leading rusher with 142 yards on 13 carries.
New Bern had plenty of big plays of its own.
Quarterback Josh Taylor, a dynamic senior who's passed for over 2,300 yards and rushed for 1,200 more, broke out twice to score on runs of 53 yards and 34 yards to give the Bears their first two touchdowns of the night.
Taylor finished with 120 yards on 15 carries. He completed five of 16 passing attempts for 133 yards.
The loss ends a successful first season in Scotland for Bailey, who joined the Scots in the offseason after spending a decade at Jack Britt.
Bailey said in a pregame interview this week that he didn't think the Scots would make it to the Eastern Regional final this season after losing 38 seniors from last year's state championship team.
"These two seasons have been the most successful period in program history at Scotland," the coach said. "That's something that I've challenged these guys with, to not just be a flash in the pan. And that's something we're going to continue."
New Bern 23, Scotland 6
NB - Josh Taylor 53 run (Kyle O'Connor kick)
NB - safety
S - Jaylend Ratliffe 33 run (Ben Utter kick)
NB - Taylor 34 run (O'Connor kick)
NB - Cody Purdie 3 run (O'Connor kick)
Rushing: S - Jalen McLean 13-142, Ratliffe 17-73, Josh McPhatter 9-22; NB - Taylor 15-120, Jac Watkins 20-117, Purdie 3-12, Bra'lon Cherry 1-0, Leautae Grimes 1-(3)
Passing: S - Ratliffe 6-15-0 57; NB - Taylor 5-16-2 133
Receiving: S - TraShawn Gregory 5-51, Tyron Jones 1-6; NB - Cherry 1-47, Mike Hughes 2-54, Chandler Powell 1-27
Records: Scotland 12-2, New Bern 14-0
Next game: New Bern vs. In dian Trail Porter Ridge in the 4-A championship game, 7:30 p.m. Friday, in Chapel Hill.
Staff writer Jaclyn Shambaugh can be reached at 609-0651 or email@example.com.