KE’Marvin Pitts, shown here catching an 80-yard TD pass on the opening play of the game, and the Knights got their revenge on Stratford in a big way Friday night with an impressive 45-27 victory to move to 3-1 on the season.
ALBANY —KE’Marvin Pitts could have just kept on running.
The Deerfield-Windsor senior could have sprinted through the goal line and out of the end zone, straight through the parking lot and right into the team’s weight room, ripping down a sign reminding the Knights of their GISA Class AAA state semifinal loss to Stratford Academy last season.
The Knights avenged that loss with a convincing 45-27 victory against the Eagles on Friday, and they began on the first play of the game when Pitts caught a pass from DWS quarterback Dallas Margeson and sprinted away for an 80-yard score.
Pitts didn’t run straight to the weight room in search of that sign. Instead, he and the Knights just kept running all over Stratford.
“I remember them putting 372 yards of rushing on us (last season), and that motivated us. That’s not what we do. Deerfield doesn’t do that,” Pitts said. “We had to make a statement.”
And that statement was heard loud and clear throughout Webb Memorial Stadium, where the Knights (3-1) held Stratford to 167 rushing yards — almost half of which were gained on one play — and were nearly unstoppable on offense.
“(Deerfield) is a little more seasoned this year,” Stratford assistant coach David Bailey said. “They are better than they were last year in my opinion, and we have a very young offensive line that is still learning.”
Deerfield running back and Herald Dynamite Dozen selection Kh’Ron McClain gave Stratford’s defensive line all it could handle. McClain rushed for 176 yards and TDs of 80 and 23 yards and caught a 5-yard TD pass from Margeson. All of McClain’s scores were in a third quarter where the Knights quickly turned a four-point lead into a 25-point blowout.
“It was a great win,” McClain said. “All I can say is that I love my (offensive) line. I just love them. They are the reason I got (to the end zone).”
McClain wasn’t the only Knight exacting revenge on Stratford, which is the only team from Georgia that has beaten DWS in the past two years.
Margeson threw for 116 yards and accounted for four TDs — the 80-yard pass to Pitts, a 1-yard rush in the first quarter, a 5-yard pass to McClain in the third quarter and a 47-yard interception return to open up the fourth quarter.
DWS place kicker Harry Vildibill nailed a 40-yard field goal and was 6-for-6 on PATs, Will Calhoun broke off a 47-yard run in the fourth quarter and fullback Sam Shellhaas picked up some key first downs and had a 10-yard sack on defense.
“We had some guys step up and really make some plays tonight,” DWS coach Allen Lowe said. “Kh’Ron had a great game. I thought Margeson did a great job. We had some guys step up, and I think our defense was a huge difference. Other than two plays they were stymied all night long.”
Stratford (2-1) scored on a 71-yard rush by quarterback John Mitchell to tie the game at 7-7 with 6:54 left in the first and then on a 61-yard pass from Mitchell to Hayden Graham at the beginning of the second quarter to pull to within 17-13.
But then the Knights took over, scoring 28 unanswered points and dominating both sides of the ball.
Stratford’s backup quarterback, sophomore Conner Corbitt, got in the end zone twice in the final minutes of the game. With 5:19 left, he scampered in on a 15-yard rush, and then with 2:51 remaining he returned a punt 50 yards for a score.
The Knights are on the road next Friday at Tattnall Square, a game they immediately started focusing on after taking care of Stratford.
“We’re taking it one game at a time, and now we have Tattnall next week,” McClain said. “We just have to let this go and get ready for Tattnall.”