By BRAD KEITH
ARLINGTON (December 15, 2017) — D.J. Kirvin is as advertised.
So are the Kennedale Wildcat.
Kirvin rushed for 326 yards and five touchdowns, leading Kennedale to 573 total yards in a 54-28 Conference 4A Division I semifinal win over a Stephenville team that improved from four wins in 2016 to the final four this fall.
Kirvin carried the ball 60 and 52 yards on his first and third carries, setting up a scoring run for himself and the lone Wildcat passing touchdown at AT&T Stadium Friday.
The Wildcats jumped ahead 26-0 after 36 and 46 yard rushing scores by Jalen Knowles, the latter coming less than two minutes before halftime.
Stephenville finally got on the board with an impressive 75 yard drive to end the half, but while Blu Caylor’s two-yard plunge and stretch across the goal line to cap the drive did jump start the offense, it was not enough ignite a big comeback.
Because with D.J. Kirvin running behind a large, physical offnesive line, the Wildcats were were only half way done with their trips to the end zone.
Kirvin scored four times after the intermission, his five total touchdowns traveling 8, 5, 57, 12 and 37 yards. He gained 218 yards on his five longest carries, all gaining between 37 and 60 yards.
Knowles added six carries for more than 10 yards including the two second quarter touchdowns that in essence put the game out of reach even with a half and change to go.
The Yellow Jacket offense did generate second-half highlights, despite the Kennedale defense applying the brakes to the Stephenville running attack
Jones generated 50 yards on three big carries, one of which ended with him taking a vicious but unflagged hit from a Kennedale defensive back as he was slowing up a moment from stepping out of bounds.
Krece Nowak had spotty success catching passes out of the backfield, but did not have a carry of more than four yards on his way just 12 rushing yards on 10 attempts. His junior season ends with 1,791 yards rushing, 62 short of the school record 1,853 gained by James Myles in 2009.
Jones was sacked five times and knocked to the turf while releasing or just after releasing a number of passes.
But as he has throughout his carer, Jones battled through it. That’s not a surprise to anyone familiar with his story – tearing a ligament in the elbow of his throwing arm while pitching in a summer baseball game, only to returning 105 days later to quarterbacking the offense and leading a run of 27 straight points to blowout Everman.
Jones and the Jackets battled to first a district title, then brimming with confidence started piling up playoff victories including controlling much of a 31-28 victory over No. 3 Argyle in a Region I semifinal.They weren’t about to quit at halftime two weeks later.
Kirvin scored on the opening drive of the new half, then the Stephenville offense got going with Jones lobbing a 29-yard TD to Kade Averhoff,.
Kirvin scored on the first play of the ensuing drive to again be sure Kennedale would never be threatened. If that didn’t seal it his fourth TD cetainly dd with Kennedale taking its largest lead of 47-14,
Blake Aragon took a quick bubble screen from Jones, shrugged off an attempted tackle, picked up two good blocks and was off to a race that he won for an 89-yard touchdown.
After Kirvin tacked on one more for the Wildcats, Kyle Lindsey, who already had a two-point conversion, scored the final touchdown of the Yellow Jacket season. He was left open up the seam and Jones put it on him in stride right at the goal line.
Jones finished 23-39 with 3 TDs. He was intercepted once, with Kennedale’s Larry brooks snatching away Stephenville’s chance at an early lead.
The Jacket defense responded with a 3-and-out to begin their day, but officials missed a Kennedale defensive back latching onto the arm of Aragon on a third-down pass to force the Jackets to punt on the ensuing drive.
Then the Wildcats gave the ball to Kirvin for the first time and were off to the races.
Photos below by RUSSELL HUFFMAN/The Flash Today
Photos below by Dr. CHET MARTIN