Gators win defensive struggle to keep streak alive
Blowouts have been the name of the game the majority of the time in Goose Creek’s impressive winning streak.
On Friday, the Gators had to win a slugfest to extend the streak to 37 games, surviving crosstown rival Stratford, 14-7, in front of a frenzied crowd at Stackley Field.
The Gators ended the regular season 11-0 with their seventh straight win in the series. The victory also gave Goose Creek the Region 7-AAAA title.
Stratford is 9-2, with both of those setbacks coming the last two weeks.
“It was just what I knew and what I said,” GCHS coach Chuck Reedy said. “They’re probably the best team we’ve played in the last two or three years.”
Both teams will learn their playoff seeds Saturday and, by both coaches’ math, the rivalry could be on center stage again in three weeks.
The Gators will be the No. 1 seed in the Class AAAA Div. II bracket and Stratford is likely going to fall to No. 4 or 5, meaning a matchup in the state semifinals could happen.
“We might have a chance to get back at them a little bit,” SHS coach Ray Stackley said.
Neither team came close to its season averages in points and yards because both defensive units were dialed in.
Stratford’s lone points, ironically, came on its first play from scrimmage on a double pass. Thad Thompson threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to K.J. Givens after hauling in a lateral from quarterback Jacob Park.
It took the Gators until the second quarter to answer. Fullback Evan McField capped an 86-yard drive with a 1-yard plunge.
Goose Creek’s other score was set up by quarterback Dantez Bennamon’s 65-yard scamper early in the third quarter. On fourth and goal, tailback Tyrik Johnson scored on a 5-yard run.
“What you saw was two really fine football teams,” Stackley said. “We didn’t make enough plays but we had some opportunities.”
Stratford had the ball last and drove to Goose Creek’s 47 before turning it over on downs. Gators defensive back Kenny Hampton swatted down a Park pass thrown deep into Goose Creek territory.
The Gators ran out the final 1:36.
Bennamon had 145 yards rushing and McField had 67 yards for the Gators, who came in averaging over 50 points a game.
Park was 14 of 32 with two interceptions, both by Gators defensive back Omar McRae. One of McRae’s interceptions was at the goal line after Johnson’s go-ahead score in the third quarter.
The Knights were averaging 32.2 points per game.
“We have a lot of confidence in our defense,” Bennamon said, “and they kept stepping up.”