Jackets advance behind Stidham’s record-setting return

Stephenville won its sixth area championship in seven years under head coach Joe Gillespie, defeating Lubbock Estacado 69-60 at Shotwell Stadium in Abilene on Friday, Nov. 21. || Photo by RUSSELL HUFFMAN

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Staff Report


Sport: (November 21, 2014) — Jarrett Stidham’s hand is just fine. So is Stephenville’s offense.

The Under Armour All-American took over at quarterback on Stephenville’s second possession and guided 10 straight touchdown drives to lead Stephenville (8-3) past Lubbock Estacado (9-3) in a 69-60 shootout at Shotwell Stadium in Abilene Friday.

It’s the Yellow Jackets’ sixth area title in seven years under head coach Joe Gillespie. They move on to a regional semifinal rematch with Big Spring at 2 p.m. next Friday, November 28, also at Shotwell.

Stidham equaled a school record with a hand in nine of the scores, first passing for six then rushing for three including a 50-yarder to put it out of reach with Stephenville on top 69-52 and just more than two minutes left. He matched Tyler Jones for most combined touchdowns in a single game ever for Stephenville. Jones passed for five and rushed for four in the 2012 3A Division I state final.

The Texas Tech pledge was 18-25 for 341 yards through the air and sprinted for 181 yards. He had a hand in 522 of Stephenville’s 652 total yards.

Stidham completed TD passes to five different receivers. He hit Kaegun Williams on deep balls for touchdowns covering 74 and 62 yards. Williams had 141 yards receiving and rushed for 115 yards and a score. For the season, the sophomore has 1,341 yards on the ground and 1,036 through the air.

Darian Brown hauled in five catches for 57 yards, Ben Martin four for 70, Austin Stufflebean four for 59 and Josh Nowell three for 24. Each scored one touchdown.

Lubbock Estacado amassed 661 yards as the teams combined for 1,313 total yards. But even in allowing 60 points for the third time in four games, Stephenville’s defense did make the big plays necessary to win.

The Yellow Jackets covered up three Matador fumbles and stuffed four consecutive two-point conversions while the game was in doubt. The biggest of the takeaways came on a fumble recovery just moments after Estacado recovered an onside kick with Stephenville clinging to a 49-46 edge.

Matador quarterback Jaleen Tennison also had a big night, passing for 330 yards and five touchdowns while rushing for 145 yards and a sixth score. Combined, the dual-threat quarterbacks produced 997 yards and 15 scores.

Tennison hit seven different receivers, including Dorean Deary six times for 96 yards and three touchdowns. David Smith rushed for 165 yards and three scores.

Big Spring beat Andrews 48-34 to do its part to set up next Friday’s rematch. Stidham suffered a broken bone in his throwing hand on Stephenville’s opening possession at Big Spring on Oct. 24. Backup quarterback Anthony Chavarria passed for six TDs in relief, but Big Spring won 64-57.

Chavarria passed for 1,039 yards and 12 touchdowns while Stidham was on the mend. He started at quarterback Friday with Stidham opening at receiver.

Estacado intercepted a pass on Stephenville’s opening drive, then began the scoring with an 80-yard TD run by Smith. Stidham took over at QB, and Stephenville scored on every possession until kneeling out the clock at the end.

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