GOOSE CREEK — Stackley Field has been transformed into Park Place.
Stratford junior quarterback Jacob Park had another impressive game, accounting for 334 of his team’s 396 total yards to lead the Knights to a 28-21 victory over Fort Dorchester in a battle of unbeaten teams.
Park, arguably the top junior quarterback in the state, showed poise in the pocket, precision with his passing and grit when running the football to help the Knights improve to 3-0. He was 9 of 15 for 267 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and ran for another TD.
“I thought he played with poise,” said Stratford coach Ray Stackley, who recorded his 250th career victory. “He made some minor mistakes, but for the most part, he played a great game. He made the plays when we needed it.”
Stackley was presented the game ball by his team.
“This is about a tradition,” he said. “This is about family — all the great athletes who came through. This is sharing the wealth.”
Park scored on a 5-yard run on the Knights’ first possession and completed a 32-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Johnson with five seconds left in the first quarter to give his team a 14-0 lead.
The Patriots rallied to make it a one-touchdown game when Daitwan Commodore scored on a 1-yard run on fourth-and-goal early in the second quarter.
But any Patriot momentum was wiped out on the second play of the Knights’ next possession.
K.J. Givens got behind the secondary and was on the receiving end of Park’s 89-yard TD pass. Park’s perfectly executed screen pass to Jamar Stevens covered 68 yards and set up the Knights’ only score of the second half, a 17-yard run by Noah Shuler with 7:06 left in the game to push the lead to 28-7.
The Patriots didn’t quit. Commodore scored on a 6-yard run and the Patriots picked off a Park pass on the next drive. The Patriots cut it to 28-21 when Baptiste Staggers scrambled and found junior wide receiver Corey Rawlings open for a 16-yard TD with 3:05 left in the game.
“We played well for six minutes,” Fort Dorchester coach Steve LaPrad said. “You have to play 48 minutes. We just didn’t play well. We played like an inexperienced team.”
The Knights had one of the best decades in state history from 1997 to 2006 when they posted a 118-18 record and won a state championship in 1999. But they went 41-47 from 2007-10 after Cane Bay High School opened and siphoned off some talent.
The Knights seem to have regained some of their swagger with a solid offense and a defense that has allowed only 28 points on the season.
Friday’s win, in front of about 4,000 fans at Stackley Field, was the Knights’ 12th in their last 16 games.
Fort Dorchester fell to 2-1 and faces huge tests over the next two weeks. The Patriots host Goose Creek (3-0) next weekend and Wando (4-0) on Sept. 21, “We didn’t quit tonight,” LaPrad said. “We didn’t play well, though.”
Fort Dorchester finished with 271 yards in total offense. Staggers had 127 yards passing and added 20 on the ground.
Fort Dorchester 0 7 0 14 —21
Stratford 14 7 0 7 —28
Stratford — Jacob Park 5 run (Tyler Tekac kick)
Stratford — Jordan Johnson 32 pass from Park (Tekac kick)
Fort Dorchester — Daitwan Commodore 1 run (Luke Philyaw kick)
Stratford — K.J. Givens 89 pass from Park (Tekac kick)
Stratford — Noah Shuler 17 run (Tekack kick)
Fort Dorchester — Commodore 6 run (Philyaw kick)
Fort Dorchester — Corey Rawlings 16 pass from Baptiste Staggers (Philyaw kick)