Mark Farriba had hoped to see how his team reacted to tough situations.
The Stratford head coach didn’t, however, want it to happen in the way that it did on Friday night. The Eagles suffered their first loss in the GHSA at the hands of Wesleyan, a 27-14 victory for the Wolves in the second week of the season.
“I thought our guys did a great job of fighting through a pretty hot and muggy night, really staying in the game,” Farriba said. “I told the players I just want to see us in a tough game and see what we’re gonna do ... I thought we did a pretty good job responding to some adversity. We just can’t create the adversity.”
The Eagles (1-1) never had a lead as the Wolves took advantage of turnovers and mistakes while stifling a Stratford offense that scored 61 points last week against Savannah Country Day.
Stratford was held to 224 rushing yards, and junior quarterback Quintez Cephus threw two completions in seven attempts for just 25 yards, plus one interception.
Sophomore O’Showen Williams was the bright spot for the Eagles, running for 110 yards, but he had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.
“We just gotta get better next week,” Williams said. “We just didn’t execute well. We weren’t on the same page, but we’re gonna get back in the lab next week and get better.”
Wesleyan got things going with a touchdown eight minutes into the first, an eight-play drive culminating in freshman quarterback Banks Ramsey’s 25-yard pass to Cole Brown.
The Eagles responded in the last minute of the quarter, as Larson McDaniel ran 9 yards to cap a nine-play, 82-yard scoring drive.
The Wolves scored after Cedric Lynch returned a fumble by Stratford’s Sean Grossnickle -- some of the Eagles’ created adversity. Wesleyan ended the half with a 27-yard field goal by Jordan Weaver to take a 17-7 lead into the break.
Wesleyan came out of the half and scored in the first five minutes, but the Eagles’ toughness came through in the 17-point hole. After Noah Hill recovered a fumble by Josh Garrard, Grossnickle negated his earlier blunder to run the ball in for the Eagles’ last score of the night.
Stratford then held the Wolves to just three points in the fourth, another 27-yard field goal by Weaver.
Despite scoring 27 points, Wesleyan only rushed for 92 yards on 31 carries. Ramsey threw a total of 151 yards on 12 completions in 17 attempts and one interception.
“I thought we played the run well defensively,” Farriba said. “I thought we ran the ball well, but again, we really made two critical mistakes that lead to 14 points for them.”