GOOSE CREEK — Coming off one of its biggest wins in school history after beating rivals Fort Mill for the first time, the Nation Ford Falcons had to keep that momentum going taking on the 11th ranked Stratford Knights, coming off of two straight losses to end their regular season.
But in the playoffs, it’s a new ball game as Stratford dominated Nation Ford for the 41-6 win.
“We just didn’t have our A game,” said Falcons’ head coach Michael Allen. “We couldn’t get our offense going. We couldn’t get a break.”
Stratford quarterback Jacob Park, who is verbally committed to the University of Georgia, led the Knights in the game. Park passed for 258 yards and three touchdowns going 15-24.
Stratford’s defense stayed in Nation Ford quarterback Dalton Helms face nearly the entire game pressuring him steadily.
In the third quarter, the Knights’ defense picked him off on the Falcons second series which then turned that opportunity into another Stratford score as Jameak Jones would run in from seven yards out five plays later for the only score of the period.
Stratford opened the fourth quarter by scoring on a 35-yard touchdown as Park hit Thad Thompson to make the score 41-0.
Nation Ford wouldn’t down without scoring as Helms hit Josh Shade on the last drive of the game for the Falcons to put Nation Ford on the board. Helms went 34-for-59 for 316 yards in the game.
Nation Ford opened the second quarter as Helms hit Riley Hilton for a 12-yard gain and a first down for the Falcons. Hilton would catch 13 passes for 126 yards.
The Falcons got called for holding a couple plays later and hurt its chances in keeping the momentum going as they were forced to punt.
Park continued to lead the Knights on the ground as he was as dangerous with his feet as he was his arm.
Facing a third and three, Jones rushed for 26-yards to get to the five-yard line as it set Stratford up for another score, this time by Jordan Johnson.
The Falcons would show signs of life offensively at times, but at other times, Nation Ford receivers struggled to hold onto the ball.
With about 6:45 left in the second quarter, Hilton was hit after the play out of bounds after making a catch which got Stratford for an unsportsmanlike call putting Nation Ford at the Knights 23-yard line. The penalty was for nothing as the Falcons coughed the ball up the next play to give it back to Stratford.
Park then again took over and led the Knights down field hitting passes of 21 and 23-yards to Tyree Scroggins. The drive was capped off with Scroggins catching his third pass of the series from Park, this time with the result being a 21-yard touchdown.
Nation Ford finally found its rhythm with about two minutes left in the half as Helms hit Shade for a key first down to get within the red zone, as well as hitting Hilton and Hank Tuipulotu on the drive.
Helms hit Hilton on a 17-yard pass to get Nation Ford to the six-yard line. But the Falcons couldn’t punch it in as the half ended with Nation Ford trailing 27-0 at the half.
Stratford kept the ball on the ground to open the game except for one throw by Park. Scroggins did the majority of the work as he got them within the red zone.
Nation Ford’s defense held strong and forced Stratford to a field goal, keeping them out of the end zone.
Nation Ford struggled on its first series as Helms first two passes were dropped and the Falcons had a quick three and out.
The Falcons’ defense kept pressuring Park sacking him once on the Stratford’s second drive. However, Park would hit Jones who would scamper for a 15-yard gain to get the Knights cross midfield.
Park would then complete two back-to-back passes with the second one going to Chris Allen for the Knights’ first touchdown of the game.
Stratford would then go with an onside kick to recover the ball on the Falcons’ 47-yard line.
Park would sprint 25-yards on the opening play of the series to get the ball deep into Nation Ford territory. Stratford would then go for a 34-yard field goal and convert.
Stratford controlled the ball and the clock the majority of the first quarter. Through the first nine minutes of the game, Nation Ford only had the ball 24 seconds.
Stratford 41, Nation Ford 6
S – Tyler Tekac 37-yard field goal
S – Jacob Park 22-yard pass to Chris Allen (Tekac kick)
S – Tekac 34-yard field goal
S – Jordan Johnson three-yard run (Tekac kick)
S – Park 21-yard pass to Tyree Scroggins (Tekac kick)
S – Jameak Jones eight-yard run (Tekac kick)
S – Park 35-yard pass to Thad Thompson (Tekac kick)
NF – Dalton Helms 21-yard pass to Josh Shade (kick blocked)
Nation Ford; Stratford
RUSHING: Nation Ford: Dalton Helms 3-(-23), Keshawn McClure 3-1. Stratford: Jameak Jones 9-58, Jordan Johnson 3-25, Tyree Scroggins 5-22, Jacob Park 13-85, Dre Steed, 5-11, Kemp Shider 1-(-4), Jamison Mobbs 1-7, JD Davis 2-49.
PASSING: Nation Ford: Dalton Helms 34-59-2 316. Stratford: Jacob Park 15-24-0 258, Jamison Mobbs 1-1-0 25.
RECEIVING: Nation Ford: Riley Hilton 13-126, Hank Tuipulotu 10-102, Colt Taylor 4-31, Josh Shade 3-44, Keshawn McClure 3-15, Jordan Helms 1-(-2). Stratford: Jordon Johnson 2-40, Jameak Jones 1-15, Thad Thompson 3-54, Daniel Carter 2-38, Chris Allen 2-31, Tyree Scroggins 5-80, Austin Chesser 1-25.
RECORDS: Nation Ford 7-5; Stratford 10-2.