By BRAD KEITH
COLLEGE STATION (June 29, 2017) — The margin for error was small in Pool P for Stephenville and Pool F for Dublin Thursday in Division II of the Texas 7-on-7 Championships at Veterans Park & Athletic Complex.
The Yellow Jackets and Lions were each 1-2 in three pool games, and both area headed to the consolation bracket beginning at 8 a.m. Friday. Stephenville faces Hitchcock, and with a win would meet Salado or Gilmer. Dublin faces off with Lorena, and a victory would pit the Lions against Glen Rose or Brazosport.
Stephenville finished strong, posting its lone win in blowout fashion, 42-14, over Falls City in the finale. Tyler Schouten worked both sidelines, using pump and go’s to Kyle Lindsey to his right and jump balls to Blake Aragon across the field to his left, and Falls City had no answer for either of the talented receivers.
When Schouten, a junior quarterback thrusted into the starting position because of a torn ulna collateral ligament in the right (throwing) elbow of senior Easton Jones, wasn’t going side-to-side, he was finding the likes of Clay Krause, Kade Averhoff and company through the middle.
While everything went right offensively for the Yellow Jackets in scoring the final 28 points against Falls City, little went wrong defensively. Stephenville shut out its final opponent after the game was tied, 14-14, and two Jacket defenders combined for one of the biggest highlights of the day.
Zane Walker intercepted a pass and returned it most of the way, then with the Falls City quarterback between he and the end line on the custom 40-yard field, Walker looked like a throw-back option-style quarterback, and there for the perfect pitch – a lateral, actually – was teammate Gage Graham, who snagged the ball and waltzed on in to conclude the scoring.
It was the thrill of victory on one end for the Yellow Jackets, while at the other was the agony of not knowing whether Melissa would do them a favor and defeat Navasota. Stephenville needed Melissa to win by one for the Jackets to play in the championship bracket Friday, but Navasota held on, 33-32.
Stephenville opened the day with a thriller against Navasota, only to see the Rattlers reel off 19 unanswered points at the end of a 50-36 win after the Jackets grabbed a brief 36-31 advantage early in the second half (For a recap of this and Dublin’s first game, CLICK HERE).
Against Melissa, it was a slow start Stephenville could not overcome in a 42-37 loss.
Melissa appeared in firm control when its defense intercepted pass to take over possession already leading 14-0, but that’s when Stephenville honed in and fought back.
That’s also when Schouten started to get into a better rhythm with Aragon and Lindsey, beginning with a Lindsey TD to cut it to 14-7.
Melissa appeared to catch a break when a receiver landing over the back line of the end zone was ruled inbounds by the side judge. It was the final play of the half, and the ensuing conversion was good for two. Just like that, Stephenville trailed 22-7.
But Aragon out-jumped everyone for a touchdown, and again for a two-pointer following a Kade Averhoff TD, and Melissa, which scored in between, saw its lead trimmed to 28-23 midway through the second half.
Melissa answered, however, with a TD and an interception before the Jacket defense stood its ground and Lindsey found the end zone on another aerial delivery from Schouten. Aragon went upstairs for the two and the deficit was 34-31.
Stephenville had Melissa facing third down twice but couldn’t get off the field until a touchdown made it 40-31 with hardly more than a minute remaining. Lindsey continued his huge game with a deep TD from Schouten to cut it to 40-37, but time expired during the conversion, which was intercepted and returned for two.
Stephenville is in the Division II tournament for the sixth straight year, and reached six consecutive Division I tournaments from 2005-10. The Jackets have been to state 13 times dating back to 1998, including 12 appearances over the past 13 years.
There were nail biters all day two fields away, where Dublin made its strongest state tournament pool play showing to date. It’s the third time the Lions have been in the state tournament, the first since 2014. They never qualified for the event before Bob Cervetto took over the program, but the 2017 event marks their third trip in five years.
Tyshon Hopkins had four touchdowns in the first two games for the Lions, who went with Josh Hanes at QB in the opener (summed up, along with Stephenville’s opener HERE ON THE FLASH), then Jacob Owen in the second contest.
Hopkins had two scoring catches including a game winner, and also recorded an interception in their 20-19 win over Liberty to begin their day. The margins remained narrow in a 27-21 loss to Rockdale, which scored in the last few seconds after Hopkins used his second TD from Owen to give the Lions a 21-20 edge.
It was same song, second verse in the pool finale against San Augustine, with Dubliin falling 27-22.
Photos by The Flash Today
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