Columbia - The best season for Stratford’s football program in nearly a decade came to a heartbreaking end on Saturday afternoon.
The Knights lost to Northwestern 62-35 in the Class AAAA Div. II championship inside Williams-Brice Stadium in front of over 7,000 fans on a cloudy, overcast day.
“Two things happened,” SHS coach Ray Stackley said. “We didn’t play very well and they’re pretty dadgum good.”
It was the first appearance in the championship for the Knights since they lost to Rock Hill 21-7 to end the 2004 season.
It was the last game for 20 Stratford seniors, including quarterback Jacob Park and most of a defensive unit that powered the Knights into the final.
The Trojans, playing in their fifth title game in six seasons, finish with a perfect 15-0 season, the second time they’ve done that since 2010.
Stratford committed eight turnovers on the afternoon.
The Trojans built up a 35-14 advantage in the opening half, getting four touchdown passes and one touchdown run from Oklahoma State commitment Mason Rudolph.
Rudolph finished 38 of 54 for 483 yards and eight touchdowns. Trojans receiver Dupree Hart hauled in 21 passes for 255 yards and four touchdowns.
Park finished his Stratford career by going 21 of 39 for 325 yards and four touchdowns but was picked off four times and fumbled twice.
For more photos and information on the game, please see this week’s Gazette.