2011 Challenge Cup field set

Mike Anhaeuser

GOOSE CREEK -- Stratford coach Ray Stackley knows a winning formula when he sees it: a punishing running game and a physical and opportunistic defense.

Both were on full display Friday night against Conway.

Noah Shuler rushed for 138 yards and the Knights' defense forced five turnovers to lead Stratford past Conway, 43-25, in the opening round of the Class AAAA state playoffs before a crowd of about 2,000 at Ray Stackley Field.

The Knights (9-3) next face Ashley Ridge, while Conway finished the season at 8-4.

The Knights rolled up 385 yards of offense, including 340 rushing yards. The Knights had four players with more than 50 rushing yards and had four different players record a rushing touchdown.

"We did a good job with our power running game," Stackley said. "We kind of ran it right at them and they couldn't stop us. The offensive line did a great job and really got a good push all night."

The Knights' defense did its job, forcing four fumbles and collecting an interception. Linebacker Cecil Smith returned a fumble 65 yards for a TD on the fourth play from scrimmage.

The Knights, at least for a half of football, contained Conway quarterback Mykal Moody, one of the top juniors in the state. While the Knights' offense was piling up a 30-0 lead, Moody was sacked three times and had just 44 yards of offense.

"I think we did a great job of containing him," Stackley said. "He beat us with a couple of passes, but he didn't hurt us very much running the football and that's where he's the most dangerous. He had a great second half, but by then we had a big enough lead where he couldn't hurt us too bad."

Moody completed 18 of 26 passes for 182 yards and two TDs, and rushed for 78 yards and another score.

Stratford quarterback Jacob Park threw a 35-yard TD pass to Bobby Watson to highlight a 30-point first half for the Knights.

Moody threw an 18-yard pass to Chris Ford just before halftime as the Knights led 30-7 at intermission.

Moody made things interesting in the second half when he hit Malcolm Green for a 45-yard TD pass on the second play of the third quarter.

He added a 10-yard TD run to pull the Tigers to within 30-19 with 5:40 left in the third quarter.

But Jamar Steven answered with a 40-yard TD for the Knights that gave Stratford a 37-19 lead with 2:10 left in the third quarter.

Park, who finished with 68 rushing yards, added 10-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.

"Jacob managed the game very well," Stackley said. "He ran it very well tonight and threw it well when we needed him to."

S -- Cecil Smith 65 fumble return (Cole Rymer kick)

S -- Noah Shuler 7 run (kick failed)

S -- Jacob Park 35 pass to Bobby Watson (Rymer kick)

S -- Cole Rymer 43 FG

S -- Devin Washington 4 run (Rymer kick)

C -- Mykal Moody 18 pass to Chris Ford (Ashton McCants kick)

C -- Mykal Moody 45 pass to Malcolm Green (kick failed)

C -- Mykal Moody 10 run (run failed)

S -- Jamar Stevens 40 run (kick failed)

S-- Jacob Park 7 run (kick failed)

C -- Mykal Moody 3 run (run failed)