By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (October 23, 2015) — For all the trials Stephenville has persevered this season, on Friday, they won the regular season game that mattered most – the one likely to land the Yellow Jackets in the state playoffs for the 12th straight season and 26th time in 27 years.
Easton Jones passed for three touchdowns – two of them to Josh Nowell – and the Stephenville (3-5, 1-2) defense was both dominant and opportunistic, forcing four turnovers by halftime in a 37-7 win over Big Spring (2-5, 0-2) in a 3-4A Division I district game at Memorial Stadium.
The win means a one game lead plus the heads’ up advantage for Stephenville over Big Spring if the teams end up racing for the final playoff spot in 3-4A Division I. Stephenville is idle next Friday and concludes its regular season at Abilene Wylie on November 6.
To steal a playoff spot from Stephenville, Big Spring must defeat Abilene Wylie and Brownwood the next two weeks, and Wylie must beat Stephenville.
The Yellow Jackets led 23-0 by halftime, when Big Spring already had four turnovers, all on lost fumbles. Stephenville fumbled three times before intermission, but recovered each time. The Jackets had a fifth takeaway after halftime when Cole Pettit intercepted a pass to set up a 22-yard touchdown by Matthew Chapman for a 30-0 lead.
Chapman racked up 161 yards on 17 carries, pacing Stephenville to more than 200 rushing yards for the night.
Jon Clark Giddings put an exclamation point on the blowout with a 57-yard punt return for a touchdown less than 90 seconds after theChapman score, and it was 37-0. Giddings also recovered the first Big Spring fumble 75 yards to the eight. Stephenville ultimately turned that takeaway into a 33-yard Jake Gillispie field goal for the first points of the night.
Jones and Nowell hooked up for a nine-yard score for a 10-0 lead late in the first, and the sophomore quarterback hit Darian Brown with a 14-yard TD early in the second. A two-point conversion pass failed, but the Jackets scored once more when Jones hit Nowell from four yards out to secure the big halftime margin.
Big Spring did not score until the final minutes on a 20 yard pass from Garrett Wigington to Nathan Schneider.