By BRAD KEITH
SPRINGTOWN (September 8, 2017) — Stephenville (2-0) ran by Springtown (0-2) in the first half, threw it past the Porcupines in the second half and other than one 17-play scoring drive, the Yellow Jackets played their newfound stingy brand of defense all night.
Perhaps it isn’t newfound at all.
One could argue it’s old school, a throw back, to days when five and four touchdown margins of victory over schools from places such as Cleburne and Springtown were the norm.
Krece Nowak is off to a historic pace at running back with his second four-TD performance propelling Stephenville to an easy 41-13 win over Springtown at Porcupine Stadium Friday.
Nowak and the offense were helped along by senior cornerback Cole Pettit with two first half interceptions providing extra opportunities, and the junior cashed them in with three rushing touchdowns for a 20-0 first quarter lead. He later scored on a 26-yard catch and run from Cole Stanley that put the victory on ice with a 34-6 advantage.
Nowak rushed for 188 yards on 23 carries, and through two games has 479 yards and seven TDs on 39 rush attempts with an eighth TD through the air. Not since Aiavion Edwards in 2011 has a Jacket running back had a comparable start to a season.
Stephehville has back-to-back wins to begin a season for the first time since 2014 and only the third time since current SMU head coach Chad Morris left for Lake Travis following consecutive 9-0 starts with the Yellow Jackets in 2006 and 2007.
Stephenville did not complete a pass in the first half, going 0-4, and third-year head coach and 13th year staff member Greg Winder later explained that junior quarterback Tyler Schouten was not 100 percent.
“Schouten told me something popped in his shoulder, so I immediately sent him to see our (athletic) trainers so they could do their thing. Cole took over and did his job and did it well.”
Stanley brings the element of athletic mobility to the field and it showed right away with a pair of successful option keepers. But he fumbled away the possession at the end of his second run, which traveled inside the Springtown 30.
But Pettit’s picks kept the Porcupines from taking advantage. They did have the one long drive that ate up almost seven minutes of clock, culminating in a 29-yard TD pass from Travis Plato Adam Aguire, and it was just enough to stay somewhat in the game until the second half.
Stanley didn’t let them hang around long after intermission, driving the Yellow Jackets down the field before linebacker Blu Caylor came on as part of the heavy offense that Stephenville refers to as “Hammer Time,” and plowed his way into the end zone from a yard out for a 27-6 margin.
Stanley delivered the 26-yard TD to Nowak, and on the ensuing drive faked like another option was coming and instead pulled up and found Clay Krause open behind the defense. The 74-yard play action pass opened up a 41-6 lead before a late Springtown score, and sends Stephenville into week three averaging 47 points.
Stanley was 4-5 for 134 yards, all in the second half, and rushed five times for 45 yards. Stephenville covered 426 total yards to Springtown’s 211, enjoyed a 24-13 margin in first downs and had six sacks without allowing one. The Jackets were 4-5 on third downs, including 3-3 after halftime,.
“We’re feeling pretty good. We have to keep it in perspective, because it’s just two games, but it’s great to see the smiles on he kids’ face. We’re happy,” said Winder afterwards.
He praised the defense, which has allowed only three TDs this season with the starting lineup on the field.
“You see them flying around and creating turnovers,” he said. “They are playing well right now.”
The schedule only gets more difficult in the coming weeks. Everman visits Stephenville next Friday, then the Yellow Jackets are the opponent of choice on homecoming night in Decatur on September 22.
The Jackets and Everman are meeting for the 24th time since 1978 with the Bulldogs holding a 12-11 series edge following a 31-24 win in Everman last season. Stephenville will be facing Decatur for the fifth time in four years, having eliminating the Eagles in the playoffs in 2014 and 2015 before losing twice to them last season. Most recently, Decatur held off a late Yellow Jacket charge to win 49-42 when they met in bi-district for the third consecutive year.
NOTE: It’s the eighth time since 2000 but just the third since 2007
that Stephenville has started a season with back to back wins. Five
of the previous seven times the Yellow Jackets have improved to
3-0 the following week, with the 2004-07 teams each all starting
at least 9-0 under current SMU head coach Chad Morris.