GOOSE CREEK — Three plays were all Stratford needed to change the momentum of the game Friday night against Summerville.
Trailing 20-7 early in the third quarter and facing a fourth-and-11 from its own 1-yard line, Stratford’s modest one-game winning streak against Summerville appeared to be coming to an abrupt end.
But an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Summerville, a flick of the wrist from Knights quarterback Jacob Park and the strong hands of Stratford linebacker T.J. Deveaux completely turned things in Stratford’s favor in less than 30 seconds.
Park threw for 325 yards and two touchdowns and Deveaux returned a fumble 22 yards for another score to lead Stratford past Summerville, 28-26, before a standing room-only crowd at Stackley Field on Friday night.
The eighth-ranked Knights (6-0) remained perfect on the season, but needed a blocked field goal attempt at the buzzer to secure only their second win over the Green Wave in the last 12 years. Summerville fell to 4-2.
Down by 13 points, Summerville was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty that gave the Knights a first down. Summerville coach John McKissick and Stratford coach Ray Stackley wouldn’t say why the penalty was called.
“I’m not going to talk about that,” McKissick said.
Two plays later, Park rolled to his left and found Thad Thompson down the sideline for an 84-yard TD pass that cut the Green Wave’s lead to 20-14 with 9:42 to play.
On the Green Wave’s ensuing possession, Deveaux ripped the ball away from a Summerville running back and raced 22 yards for the TD.
In less than 30 seconds, Stratford went from trailing by 13 points to leading, 21-20.
“Huge momentum change for us,” Stackley said. “That was the turning point in the game. There was a lot of barking going on all game and I think that’s what led to the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. We didn’t play a great first half, but we hung in there and made just enough plays to win the game.”
Stratford took a 28-20 lead on Tyree Scroggins’ 19-yard TD run with 7:20 left in the third quarter.
Summerville pulled to within 28-26 when Chris Felder capped off a 9-play, 72-yard drive with a 7-yard TD run with 2:23 left in the game.
The Green Wave went for the two-point conversion to tie the game, but Felder’s off-tackle run came up a yard short.
“Summerville just never quit,” Stackley said. “That’s the way coach McKissick’s teams always play.”
Summerville recovered the onside kick, but could only drive the ball to the Knights’ 30-yard line.
Summerville’s David Kennedy, who had connected on field goals of 21 and 22 yards and just missed a 47-yard attempt, lined up for the game-winning kick.
But the Knights got penetration in the middle of the line and blocked Kennedy’s attempt as time expired to end the game.
Park completed 16 of 40 passes and threw TD passes of 84 and 80 yards. He also threw three interceptions. Thompson finished with six receptions for 219 yards and caught both TD passes.
Summerville’s Sawyer Bridges was 10 of 40 passing for 205 yards and two TDs.
Summerville 10 10 0 6—26
Stratford 7 0 21 0—28
Strat – Thad Thompson 80 pass from Jacob Park (Tyler Tekac kick)
Sum – Sean Smith 10 pass from Sawyer Bridges (David Kennedy kick)
Sum – David Kennedy 21 FG
Sum – David Kennedy 22 FG
Sum – Johnston McCurry 37 pass from Sawyer Bridges (Kennedy kick)
Strat – Thad Thompson 84 pass from Jacob Park (Tyler Tekac kick)
Strat – T.J Deveaux 22 fumble return (Tekac kick)
Strat – Tyree Scroggins 19 run (Tekac kick)
Sum – Chris Felder 7 run (run failed)