Knights survive road test at Fort Dorchester
It was one of those types of competitive games where either team could have walked off the field a winner. A handful of clutch plays likely decided Stratford's 26-13 victory over Fort Dorchester on Friday night at Bagwell Stadium.
Stratford quarterback Jacob Park was the benefactor of at least a couple game-changing moments from a pair of senior teammates.
Thad Thompson turned an ordinary route into an extraordinary 86-yard touchdown play down the sideline in the first half as the Knights built a 16-6 halftime lead.
Later, Tyree Scroggins had a similar momentum-snatching play for the Knights to ignite a big finish for Stratford.
Fort Dorchester quarterback Kobe Garrett's second touchdown, a 5-yard run, capped a 69-yard drive and pulled the Patriots within 16-13 with 8:48 left.
But, one play later, Scroggins absorbed a swing pass from Park and shed two tacklers right at the point of the catch before weaving his way into the Patriots' red zone 62 yards later.
Moments afterwards, Park plunged in from the 1, pushing the lead to 23-13 just 63 seconds after Garrett's touchdown.
Cornerback Sheldon Reid then sealed it for the Knights by stepping in front of an out route and making an interception. That led to Tyler Tekac's 27-yard field goal with 2:29 remaining.
“These are big games,” Fort Dorchester coach Steve LaPrad said. “We made mistakes you can't make in these types of games. We dropped a touchdown and missed numerous tackles on the perimeter... We're not bad. We've just got to get back to work and fix some things.”
Park finished with over 320 yards passing to power the Knights to a 3-0 record. Thompson made five grabs for 152 yards and Scroggins caught three passes for 99 yards.
“That's what makes our team special,” Park said. “We've got kids that can come out of the backfield and make a big play or catch a long ball down the sidelines. That's what makes our team unique. We've got the threat of just flicking them the ball and they can take it to the house.”
Garrett shined for Fort Dorchester (2-1) too, finishing with 115 yards rushing and 127 passing. His other touchdown was a 17-yard scamper in the first quarter that answered Jordan Johnson's 7-yard touchdown run for Stratford.
“(Garrett) is extremely quick,” Stratford coach Ray Stackley said. “We had a hard time tackling him.”
In the second quarter, Tekac made his first chip shot, a 25-yarder, and Thompson got loose for his long touchdown as Stratford led 16-6.
It was still far from a perfect performance, Stratford offensive coordinator Dennie McDaniel said.
“We had some miscommunications,” he added. “It's great to come out here, not play well and still win. Our goal is to get better each week and I think we did. But there are lots of things we can get better on.”
Next week, Stratford hosts Ashley Ridge in a game the Knights will be expected to win while Fort Dorchester travels to Goose Creek, which will be coming off a 34-17 victory over chief Fort Dorchester rival Summerville.
“We look forward to that just like playing Stratford,” LaPrad said. “That's how you identify what type of program you've got. We're not there yet but we're right there.”