Pauls Valley Democrat
The Stratford Bulldogs needed a win Friday night to clinch their first playoff spot in two years. After jumping ahead 25-7 on Maysville, the Bulldogs had to hold on as Warrior quarterback Trey Willoughby threw three second half touchdown passes to mount a comeback that came up four points shy in a 32-28 loss.
“This was a big win for us because it puts us in the playoffs after being on the outside of that for the last 2 years,” Stratford head coach Michael Blackburn said. “We played well early and then had to hang on against a team that played hard and was well coached.”
This was the last game between the Garvin County rivals and it was a good one. Stratford struck first as Montie Thomas scored from 20 yards out to cap off a drive for an early 7-0 lead.
A minute later, Willoughby found an opening from mid field and raced to the end zone. Zach Ashbey’s kick gave Maysville a 7-6 lead.
Stratford would retake the lead for good late in the first quarter as Kyler Wade raced in from 40 yards out. The touchdown would spark a 26-point outburst by the Bulldogs.
Wade would score again early in the second quarter this time from 9 yards out and Thomas would score in the middle of the quarter from a yard out for a 25-7 halftime lead.
Chase Bradstreet would cap off a drive to start the second half with a one-yard run that gave Stratford a 32-7 cushion.
The game seemed to be over but then Willoughby and the Warrior passing game came to life.
In the middle of the third quarter Willoughby found his big tight end Dakota Henry from 5-yards out for a touchdown. Two minutes later, Willoughby would find Cale Bailey with a 39-yard pass for a touchdown and just like that Maysville had cut the lead to 32-21.
Maysville really made it a game with just under 9 minutes to go in the fourth. Willoughby hit Henry with a 75-yard touchdown pass cutting the score to a single score, 32-28.
Stratford was able to hang on late and secure their playoff ticket beating the Warriors by four.
“They made a lot of good plays in the 2nd half, but I was proud of our guys at the end for making the defensive stop they had to make and then being able to come up with a couple of first downs to seal the win,” Blackburn said. “I think it was a good growing experience for our young guys.”
Stratford finished with 360 yards on the ground and 485 total yards. Maysville had 250 yards through the air and had 390 total yards.
Stratford had two backs go over 100 yards as Thomas finished with 159 on 20 carries and Wade had 149 on 15 carried. Bradstreet was 6-of-8 passing for 114 yards and added 43 yards in the running game on 11 carries.
For Maysville, Willoughby had 250 yards through the air on 12-of-36 passing. Dakota Henry finished with 173 yards on 8 catches and Cale Bailey had 46 on 2. Dalton Elmore had 58 yards rushing to lead Maysville with Willoughby chipping in 56 and McGuire 49.
Defensively, Stratford was led in tackles by Isaac Miller, Brant Wade, Kyle Potter and Thomas who all had 7 tackles each. Landon Anderson added 6 tackles and Kyle Wright, Bradstreet and Thomas all had interceptions.
For Maysville, Ashbey came up huge with 24 tackles for the Warriors and he had the lone interceptions. Dalton Elmore had 19 tackles and a fumble recovery. Dakota Henry added 10 tackles, McGuire and Dakota Elmore 8 each and Jonathan Askins 7.
“We will now travel to Elmore City-Pernell for a big game against a very good Elmore City team for the right to host a playoff game in the first round,” Blackburn said.
Maysville will finish off their season looking for win No. 3 as they host Wayne.