GOOSE CREEK — They claimed the crosstown championship and left no doubt as to who rules Region 7-AAAA.
The Goose Creek Gators put the finishing touches on their second perfect regular season in three years with a 31-23 victory over rival Stratford on Friday night in front of about 7,000 fans.
Stratford put up a fight to the end, scoring all of its points in the fourth quarter. Knight quarterback Jacob Park threw touchdown passes to Chris White and Jordan Johnson in the final 58 seconds of the game.
The Gators, who won the Division II-AAAA state championship last season, will be the No. 1 seed when the playoffs begin next week.
“Our goal, obviously, was to win the region first,” Goose Creek coach Chuck Reedy said. “Eleven and 0 is where we wanted to be. We’re going to be the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, so we’re right where we wanted to be.”
The Gators are 11-0, 4-0 in 7-AAAA. Stratford fell to 9-2, 2-2.
Goose Creek entered the game averaging 427 yards in total offense, 334 on the ground. The Knights focused on stopping the running game, and Goose Creek junior quarterback Dantez Bennamon responded with 7 of 13 passing for 179 yards and two touchdowns, both to Tramel Terry.
Terry, who had four receptions for 150 yards, outjumped a Knight defender for a catch-and-run that went 54 yards for a touchdown late in the first quarter to give the Gators a 10-0 lead.
Terry also had a 49-yard catch-and-run that set up Bennamon’s 14-yard TD run that made it 17-0.
“Give Stratford credit. You can take away our running game or you can take away Tramel. It’s difficult to do both,” said Reedy, whose team outgained Stratford 369-355. “If you double cover Tramel, you are going to give up something to the running game.”
Stratford threatened twice in the first half, but Park was guilty of three turnovers. He fumbled inside the Gator 10 to end one drive early in the second quarter, and was intercepted in the end zone late in the first half.
“We got down inside the 20 and fumbled and we also dropped a touchdown pass,” Stratford coach Ray Stackely said.
“Take away those two plays and it’s a different game.”
Park still finished with 246 yards on 25 of 45 passing.
The Gators put together a 73-yard scoring drive on their first possession of the third quarter. Terry’s 28-yard touchdown reception gave Goose Creek a 24-0 lead with 4:45 left in the third quarter.
After that, Stratford came to life. The two touchdowns in the final 58 seconds were possible because the Knights recovered an onside kick after cutting the lead to 31-16. They scored again, but their second attempt at an onside kick was recovered by Goose Creek.
Stratford 0 0 0 23—23
Goose Creek 10 7 7 7—31
Goose Creek — Masamitsu Ishibashi 25 FG
Goose Creek — Tramel Terry 54 pass from Dantez Bennamon (Ishibashi kick)
Goose Creek — Bennamon 14 run (Ishibashi kick)
Goose Creek — Terry 28 pass from Bennamon (Ishibashi kick)
Stratford — Noah Shuler 24 run (Chris White pass from Park)
Goose Creek — Bennamon 7 run (Ishibashi kick)
Stratford — Chris White 10 pass from Park (Park run)
Stratford — Jordan Johnson 3 pass from Park (Tyler Tekact kick)