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DWS loses big to Stratford in semifinals

Stratford rolls to 34-0 victory over the Knights

Deerfield-Windsor’s Matthew Fox (12) looks upfield for yardage Friday night at Eagle Stadium. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)

Deerfield-Windsor’s Matthew Fox (12) looks upfield for yardage Friday night at Eagle Stadium. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)

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Deerfield-Windsor quarterback Tripp Presley (14) steps out of bounds after being flushed out of the pocket in the first half Friday night at Eagle Stadium. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)

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Deerfield-Windsor’s Matthew Fox (12) looks upfield for yardage Friday night at Eagle Stadium. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)

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Stratford Academy quarterback John Mitchell (12) scores the game’s first touchdown as Deerfield-Windsor players chase Friday night at Eagle Stadium. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)

MACON — Deerfield-Windsor players stood on the sidelines, hands on their hips in disgust.

It had been quite a while since the Knights were beaten this badly and gave up so many big plays.

However, it was a night where very little went right.

Deerfield’s season came to a close Friday night at Eagle Stadium. Stratford scored three touchdowns in the second quarter and never looked back, pounding the Knights 34-0 in the GISA Class AAA semifinals.

The victory means Stratford will meet Westfield next Saturday at Mercer University in the state championship game. The Eagles, who will move to the GHSA next season, dominated in all facets on Friday.

“We had a hard time getting the ball away from them,” Deerfield coach Allen Lowe said. “Offensively, we had a hard time moving the ball. They deserved to win, but we’ll do what we can to fight back down the road.”

When Stratford quarterback John Mitchell hit a streaking Conner Corbitt on a 38-yard pass over the middle of the field on the Eagles’ first possession of the second half, you had to figure there wasn’t going to be a comeback.

When the two teams met earlier in the season, Deerfield’s Matthew Fox scored with less than a minute left to send the Knights to a 28-21 victory. Friday night, Stratford never let Fox, freshman back Steven Williams or quarterback Tripp Presley see any kind of daylight on offense.

When Presley did try to pass, the Eagles applied constant pressure, sending the senior quarterback scrambling.

The Knights (8-5) took their opening to their 49-yard line before stalling. Deerfield didn’t see Stratford’s end of the field until it recovered a fumble midway through the third quarter at the 31.

But after picking up a first down on a completion to Nick Michas, the drive stalled and Deerfield turned the ball over on downs.

“That was the way it seemed to go,” Lowe said. “I was looking to get down there and at least kick a field goal and put some points on the board. But we got a penalty and took us right out of (field-goal) range.”

The Eagles (10-2) provided the clincher when Mitchell tossed a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Hefner with 6:15 left.

Stratford scored three times in the second quarter to turn what would seem like a defensive battle into a rout. Mitchell scored on a 1-yard plunge to take a 6-0 lead. Then on the Eagles’ ensuing possession, Thomas Williams took a handoff and dashed 64 yards for a score.

However, the biggest dagger came just 29 seconds before the first half ended. Corbitt connected with a wide open Hefner on a 15-yard halfback option pass as Stratford took a 20-0 halftime advantage.

Lowe still found a reason to smile after the game.

“I’m proud of these guys,” he said. “We ran into a team that executed very well tonight. We never seemed to quite get this thing together tonight.”

SOUTHLAND FALLS IN SEMIS: The Southland Raiders jumped ahead early in Friday’s GISA Class AAA semifinal game against Westfield, but the host Hornets pulled away late to win, 27-24, and advance to next Saturday’s state championship against Stratford Academy.

It was Westfield’s 11th straight win after a season-opening loss to Tattnall Square, while Southland lost for just the second time in the last six games and ended its season 8-5 overall.