Flash Staff Report
(September 1, 2017) — Cleburne still hasn’t solved the riddle that is Krece Nowak.
And this time, Cleburne didn’t have their own prolific leader – past star QB Tre’veon Bradley – to answer the Stephenville standout.
Nowak, a junior running back, rushed for 249 yards and five touchdowns including long breakaways of 32, 54 and 73 yards in a 53-20 win.
Nowak had 194 yards on 14 first half carries, including three TDs to jump-start Stephenville with a 22-0 lead in its first season-opening win since 2014.
Cleburne got on the board before Tyler Schouten tossed his first career TD to Kade Averhoff, who dove across the goal line to restore the three-possession advantage, and it wasn’t close the rest of the night.
Schouten was 14-18 – 77.8 percent – in his first career start, though he did toss a pair of interceptions. He’s the No. 2 quarterback but the starter until Easton Jones is cleared to throw the ball with contact following a ligament tear in his throwing (right) elbow. Jones did play, punting for Stephenville and even catching a pass on the first career completion by sophomore QB Cole Stanley.
The No. 3 QB wasn’t done, as Kyle Lindsey went upstairs and hauled in the first career TD strike delivered by Stanley, concluding the Stephenville scoring with a 53-14 midway through the fourth quarter.
Nowak hurt Cleburne last year, rushing for 164 yards and gaining another 112 through the air in the 66-40 loss on the road. So his explosion was not a surprise to the one-worded Yellowjackets.
What stunned Cleburne was the newley-established defense of their two-worded Yellow Jacket hosts. In the 4-2-5 installed by newly minted defensive coordinator – new to the position in his third season at SHS – Cody Moore, Stephenville was dominant, intercepting a couple passes and shutting the Yellowjackets down while building a 46-7 lead.
There was sure tackling, there were takeaways and there were long stretches of possessions without points allowed, something Stephenville has gotten from its defense – not consistently anyway – in several seasons. If you count scrimmages, though, they have done it three weeks straight, and that has led to more opportunities for an offense that thrived on Nowak and the big play in their highest scoring game since Army All-American 5-star QB Jarrett Stidham had a hand in nine touchdowns in a Region I-4A area round playoff in 2014.
Stephenville now looks to do something it never did last season – win games back-to-back. The Yellow Jackets visit Springtown next week looking to avenge a narrow loss at home in 2016.
Photos by NATHAN BURAL