Jacob Park throws 2 TD passes in Stratford win over Sumter, 21-7
GOOSE CREEK — Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Just ask Stratford quarterback Jacob Park.
Park threw for 184 yards and two touchdowns and Jamar Stevens scored twice as Stratford beat Sumter, 21-7, Friday night before a crowd of about 3,000 at Stackley Field.
The Knights (2-0) used a smothering defense and three big plays offensively to beat the Gamecocks (0-2).
No play was bigger than Park’s 76-yard TD pass to Stevens on a busted play midway through the third quarter.
In a scoreless game, the Gamecocks flushed Park out of the pocket. The junior scrambled to his left and heaved a ball 40 yards down the sideline. Two Sumter defenders appeared to be in perfect position to make an interception, but both misjudged the ball.
Stevens was behind the coverage, scooped the ball out of the air, pivoted and raced untouched into the end zone for the first TD of the game.
“I was going to throw it away, and I got hit as I released the ball,” Park said. “The ball stayed in bounds and luckily (Stevens) was there to make the catch.”
It wasn’t exactly the way Knights coach Ray Stackley drew up the play.
“It was like one of those passes when you say, ‘no, no, no’ and then ‘good pass,’” Stackley said. “He was off balance and threw the ball off his back foot. He still got the ball about 40 yards down the field.”
The Knights scored on their next possession when Park hit tight end Jordan Johnson over the middle on a beautiful play-action pass for a 66-yard TD and a 14-0 lead with 1:02 left in the third quarter.
“We’d been setting that play up all night,” said Park, who completed 7 of 11 passes. “The safety came up and Jordan was all by himself.”
The Knights pushed their lead to 21-0 on Stevens’ 50-yard run late in the fourth quarter. Stevens appeared to be stopped at the line of scrimmage but burst through an arm tackle and ran into the end zone.
Sumter quarterback Hunter Thames completed 23 of 35 passes for 282 yards. He pulled the Gamecocks to within 21-7 with a 40-yard TD pass to Rayshad Bennett with 2:18 left in the game.
“I was really proud of our effort, we didn’t give up,” said Sumter coach Paul Sorrells. “The defense played great all night. We gave up a couple of big plays and that was the difference in the game.”
Stratford sacked Thames five times as the Gamecocks managed just 17 rushing yards.
“It was a defensive struggle for about three quarters,” Stackley said. “We got a lot of pressure on their quarterback and didn’t give up much on the ground.”
Sumter 0 0 0 7— 7
Stratford 0 0 14 7—21
Stratford — Jamar Stevens 76 pass from Jacob Park (Tyler Tekac kick)
Strafford — Jordan Johnson 66 pass from Jacob Park (Tyler Tekac kick)
Straford — Jamar Steven 50 run (Tyler Tekac kick)
Sumter — Rayshad Bennett 40 pass from Hunter Thames (Cody Lee kick)