In a wild one, the Stratford Bulldogs held off Konawa late in their season opener winning a 28-24 battle with the Tigers.

“The guys showed a lot of grit and determination,” head coach Michael Blackburn said. “It was a good first game for us.

“We have a lot of things to try and correct, but it was a good effort against a Konawa team that kept fighting at the end. We really struggled early to move the ball, but we were able to get things going a little better in the second half.”

Laken Dempsey and Gus Smith both rushed for over 100 yards as the Bulldog offense hammered Konawa for 312 total yards, 286 on the ground. Dempsey finished with 126 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown and Smith added 110 yards on 16 carries with two touchdowns.

The game went back-and-forth in the first half. The Bulldog defense got the scoring started as Smith tackled a Konawa runner in the end zone for a safety.

The Tigers came back late in the first quarter as Marshall Howell scored on a short run giving Konawa a 6-2 lead.

Stratford bounced back with a drive that was capped off with a Russell Caton 17-yard touchdown run.

Konawa scored right before the half on an Isaiah Gore 50-yard run as they took a 12-9 lead at the break.

Stratford took the lead for good late in the third quarter as Smith scored on a 2-yard run.

Dempsey followed that up with an 8-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter as Stratford grabbed a 22-12 lead.

Konawa's Silas Isaacs scored on a 25-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 22-18.

Smith gave Stratford a 10-point lead with two minutes left in the game as he scored on a 9-yard run.

Konawa wasn't done as Gore caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from Isaacs with 24 seconds left.

Stratford recovered the on side kick and ran out the final 20 seconds for the win.

The Bulldog defense held Konawa to 232 yards in total offense, 160 on the ground and 72 through the air. Dempsey led the defense with 13 tackles. Britt Bradstreet added 12, Caton 11, Smith 7 and Ty Martin 7.

The Bulldogs will be on the road this week at Allen.

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