By BRAD KEITH
SAGINAW (November 17, 2017) — Krece Nowak accounted for 234 yards and three touchdowns Friday, when Stephenville limited Sanger to only 13 yards in the second half of a 52-13 Region I-4A Division I bi-district romp at Roughrider Stadium.
Nowak began his scoring on a 37-yard pitch and catch from Easton Jones, who was 11-14 passing for 148 yards and two TDs while also rushing for a score. The second of seven extra point kicks by Chase Carrillo put the Yellow Jackets ahead for good.
The go-ahead TD began a run of 45 unanswered points for Stephenville. That included Nowak finding the end zone again in the first quarter when he rushed for 28 yards then 24 on a two-play scoring drive for a 21-13 Stephenville lead.
There were 34 points scored in the first quarter and only 31 the rest of the night, all of them by Stephenville. Sanger gained 200 yards in the first quarter and 50 in the second before the Yellow Jacket defense really applied the breaks. Sanger had just one first down after half-time, and it came on a Stephenville penalty.
Stephenville faces Pampa in the area-round next Friday at WFISD Memorial Stadium in Wichita Falls. SISD athletic officials say the probable start time is 6 p.m.
Jones and his District 3-4A champion teammates rushed for 266 of their 434 total yards, led by Nowak with 181 rushing and 53 on five catches.
The Flash Today / RUSSELL HUFMAN
The biggest strength for fourth-place Sanger from District 4-4A was its defensive secondary. They didn’t intercept Jones as they did many opponents, but they did limit his opportunities to connect down the field with wide receivers, particularly in the first half. He was 3-for-7 at the break with all three completions going to the junior running back.
But the three-year starter was patient and worked a couple short passes to Blake Aragon and Kyle Lindsey on back-to-back plays on the first drive of the third quarter. Jones rushed for a one-yard TD to culminate that drive and give Stephenville a 28-13 advantage.
Carrillo split the uprights on a 35-yard field goal later in the third, then Jones welcomed a new face to the party as Quentin Walker caught his first varsity pass and scored his first touchdown for a 38-13 advantage late in the third.
The nightmare didn’t there for Sanger.
The Indians passed the ball in the direction of senior Cole Petit, the lockdown cornerback who is largely avoided by most opposing quarterbacks. Thrilled just to see a ball come his way, Pettit snagged his fifth interception of the season and knew just what to do with it.
Much like his older brother, Tyler, jumping an out route for a pick six that lifted Stephenville to the state final scoring record with 70 points in the 2012 3A Division I championship, Cole raced 30 yards down the sideline, stretched the ball across the plane and celebrated an insurmountable 45-13 lead.
No one could have guessed how soon it would grow even larger.
Carrillo pooched the ensuing kickoff, and it was Pacen Parker, not anyone on the Sanger return unit, who came out of a pile with the ball. Nowak was the in the end zone after 10 yard run two plays later, and Carrillo’s extra point made it 14 points in 12 seconds of clock time.
It’s the second playoff win as head coach for third-year Stephenville leader Greg Winder, who entered the season 7-15 but is suddenly one win from evening his career mark 16-17.
The margin of victory is the second largest this season for Stephenville, and its largest in the playoffs since beating Springtown 63-21 in an area-round game on November 22, 2013.
The Flash Today / RUSSELL HUFMAN