The Stratford Academy Eagles advanced to the round of eight in the GHSA A-Private School playoffs with a 36-22 win over Fellowship Christian on Friday night.
Stratford put together 387 yards of total offense, and the defense was able to slow down Fellowship Christian’s powerful passing offense, holding them to only 119 yards through the air. Stratford also forced three turnovers in the win.
Four who mattered
Deondre Duehart: The sophomore running back was the catalyst for Stratford as he ran for 206 yards with touchdown runs of 49 and 65. Duehart did his damage in three quarters of action before sitting out the fourth quarter with an injury.
Christian Palmer: The junior quarterback continued to improve for Stratford in the win. He completed 6-of-9 passes for 77 yards and did not turn the ball over.
Tobe Umerah: The Stanford signee, who missed the region championship game due to an ankle injury, was a full go on both sides of the football. His fumble recovery set up Duharts 49 yard touchdown run and he played a key role on the offensive line.
Merrick Haigler: The senior running back for Fellowship Christian ran for 132 yards in the loss and scored two touchdowns.
Stratford led 14-7 at the half, but scored twice in the first three minutes of the third quarter to open up a 27-7 lead. On the second play of the third quarter Duehart ran through defenders before breaking free for a 65 yard run and three plays later Trey Giles came up with an interception and took it back 36 yards for a score to give Stratford what looked to be a comfortable lead.
Turning Point 2
Stratford took a 30-14 lead late in the third quarter on a Jake Jamison 40 yard field goal, but Fellowship Christian answered with a 75 yard run by Haigler and a two point conversion to make it a 30-22 game heading into the fourth quarter. Stratford could not move the football and gave it back to Fellowship Christian, which also had to punt. Stratford took the ball and got a huge 37 yard pass from Palmer to Larson McDaniel, which set up a Jonathan Siegel 37 yard touchdown run to finally ice the game for Stratford.
Stratford was slowed late in the game with both Duehart and backfield mate Tyler Jordan out of the game because of injuries, but managed to run the clock out. Neither injury is considered to be serious.
They said it
Umerah on being back in action for the playoffs: “It was very frustrating to sit out the region championship game but it was just great to be back on the field for this game. I am probably playing at about 70 percent and I got tired late in the game, but we got the win and that’s really all that matters.”
Palmer on the throw to McDaniel: “We have been working really hard on the passing game and Larson made a great catch on the ball. I think we are gaining confidence in the passing game and I just want to be able to whatever I have to to help the team win.”
Stratford head coach Mark Farriba on the win: “I really thought it was a great team win. We never really know what to expect, especially at this time of the year, but I thought the key was we were able to answer when they made it a close game.”