By BRAD KEITH
(November 3, 2017) — Easton Jones didn’t have throw a lot of passes to be prolific Friday, he just had to pass the right ones.
With big kick and punt returns by Gage Graham setting up short fields, Jones was often in attack mode for Stephenville and Snyder couldn’t with stand the attack. The senior quarterback was 10-12 passing for 321 yards and, in essence, five touchdown passes though technically it was four in a 49-20 Stephenville win at Tiger Stadium.
The victory sets the stage for Stephenville to welcome Abilene Wylie to town next Friday as the Yellow Jackets try to win their first outright district championship under third year head coach Greg Winder. Their last was in 2014 when he was still offensive coordinator.
Jones hit Gage Graham for a 53-yard TD to answer an early Snyder score, only it doesn’t officially stand as a touchdown pass. Graham fumbled on his way into the end zone then recovered the ball for a touchdown, which officially is scored as a completion with yards to the point of the fumble, then a recovery and return fo r the yardage that remained to the end zone.
None the less, Jones went to Graham for another touchdown in the first half before finishing his night going 4-4 for three touchdowns in an abbreviated second-half performance. He checked out midway throughout the fourth after two touchdown strikes to Blake Aragon and a highlight-reel catch in the end zone by Kyle Lindsey made it 49-13.
Aragon scored on catches covering 64 and 53 yards on his way to 159 on four catches. Graham gained 74 yards on two catches and also impacted the game on defense and special teams, where he provided a short field for the offense despite despite one long return coming back.
Snyder scored twice on fourth down plays – one a running back pass – and then on then on a one-yard run with one second remaining in the game. The Tigers’ opening drive ended with the trick-play touchdown, and a short time later they recovered a fumble when Jones ran option, gaining yards before attempting a pitch to Krece Nowak, who was no longer in pitch relationship.
The Yellow Jacket defense responded with its biggest play of the night. Snyder took over at the Stephenville 11, and when it appeared the Tigers were going to score, Kasee Bouchey stripped the ball and Chase Carrillo covered it up in the end zone for a touchback.
“Giving up trick plays and losing fumbles, that can’t happen. We can’t allow that,” said Winder, who this season has improved from 7-15 to 14-17 as head coach. “We handled the adversity well defensively and made a big play, but we cant count on that.
“But overall, I thought Eaton threw the ball well and the rest of the offense did a good job,” he added. “There was a couple thins we need to clean up, but I’m pretty happy with the way we played overall.”
Nowak scored on a 19-yard run a short time later to make it 14-6. In between was the pass, catch, fumble and recovery for a score b Graham, for the initial Stephenville points, though the Snyder coaches did not agree, arguing it should have been ruled an incompletion. Graham had taken steps since the pass arrived from Jones, and the officials in sight judged he had enough control for a catch before later fumbling.
A clean toss and catch would officially have given Jones the fifth TD pass needed to match his career high from the win at Decatur earlier this season.