FLASH STAFF REPORT
SWEETWATER (November 20, 2015) — Levelland intercepted a pass in its end zone with 23 seconds remaining to snap Stephenville’s area championship streak at five in a 31-30 thriller at the Mustang Bowl Friday night.
Stephenville took over following a four-down stop at its own 19 with 1:14 remaining. Easton Jones connected on a first down pass to Darian Brown to begin the decisive final drive.
Facing fourth and 10, Jones and Brown hooked up again to keep Stephenville alive, then the sophomore quarterback hit Josh Nowell for a big play to the Levelland 22 with 31 seconds left.
But the interception followed, and Levelland ran out the clock. Abilene Wylie awaits Levelland (7-4-1) in the Region I-4A semifinals after drubbing Borger 41-0 Friday.
A pass interference penalty set up Levelland for a two-yard touchdown run and the last lead with 6:12 remaining after Stephenville scored 15 straight points to move ahead 30-24.
The Yellow Jackets trailed 24-15 after a 2-yard Levelland touchdown run and blocked PAT with 4:39 remaining in the third, but they answered quickly.
Jones, who was 20-33 passing for 311 yards, went over the top of the defense to Nowell for a 62 yard TD that cut the deficit to 24-22. Nowell did it with a downfield block on the next Stephenville drive, springing senior classmate Matthew Chapman for a 40-yard touchdown before a two-point conversion pass made gave Stephenville its final lead.
There were five total lead changes in the back and forth battle. Stephenville opened the scoring on a 34-yard end around by Jon Clark Giddings, then Levelland scored the next 12 before Chapman scored on a four-yard burst with 2:13 remaining in the half.
Levelland stopped Stephenville on the opening drive of the second half then scored on a short pass to move ahead 18-15. It’s nine-point lead later marked the only time the teams were separated by more than a possession, and that lasted only 59 seconds before Nowell scored his long TD.
Stephenville last lost in the area round in 2009, falling in overtime to eventual state champ Aledo. The Yellow Jackets reached the quarterfinals in 2010 and 2011, won their fifth state championship in 2012, reached the semifinals in 2013 and lost to Graham in the quarterfinals last season.
TheFlashToday.com photos by RUSSELL HUFFMAN