By RUSSELL HUFFMAN
December 18, 2021
ARLINGTON — It wasn’t even close at AT&T Stadium on Friday.
Stephenville (16-0) used six takeaways to win its sixth state football championship as senior wide receiver Coy Eakin put on an Offensive MVP performance with four touchdowns while also playing ESPN highlighted defense in a 38-21 win over previously unbeaten No. 1 LBJ High School (15-1).
The Yellow Jackets’ vaunted defense collected four first-quarter fumbles and turned them into a 17-0 lead that would swell to 24-0 before the Jaguars could respond.
“The war dogs went out and put a ton of pressure on LBJ and their rushing attack,” said Stephenville head coach Sterling Doty said. “We made their quarterback (Oscar Gordon) make quick decisions, and they put the ball on the ground because of it.”
Ryder Lambert stood tall in the pocket as he completed 16-19 passing for 258 yards and three TDs. The junior signal-caller also ran for 30 yards, and his dual-threat capability played a massive factor in how LBJ was forced to play defense.
“Ryder led the offense, and Coy and Reese made plays,” Doty said.
Eakin and Lambert got things started in the first quarter as the receiver began a legendary performance with a one-handed end-zone catch in front of the Stephenville crowd. Before it was all over, the big wideout would catch two more scores and run for a fourth out of the Yellow Jackets’ power set.
Eakin’s nine receptions covered 187 yards, but it was a play he made on defense that will live forever in the minds of Stephenville faithful. Early in the third quarter, LBJ defender Noah Baker stepped in front of a Lambert pass for an interception. Eakin’s heady response was to punch the ball loose from behind and right into the hands of Kallan Kimbrough, who returned the fumble 10 yards for a touchdown. The play was an instant classic and was already on ESPN’s Twitter before the game was over, but Stephenville was far from done in proving the doubters wrong.
“Our guys are taught to play till the whistle,” Doty said. “All of our offensive guys did that, and we were able to get the ball out.”
Led by senior linebacker and the game’s Defensive MVP, Reese Young (14 tackles, 7 solos, fumble recovery), the Jackets’ defense shut down LBJ’s prolific offense as the Jaguar’s 212-yard per game rushing average and held to just 62 yards.
LBJ quarterback Oscar Gordon was hurried all day, but held up well under pressure with 387 yards passing and three touchdowns with scores of 33, 29, and 30 yards with just one interception – ironically picked off by the Jackets’ Eakin.
There were many highlights, but at the end of the day, the true glory belonged to the Jackets’ “War Dog” defense that created five fumbles, shut down the running lanes, and limited LBJ to short sideline passes that Stephenville swarmed.
“The war dogs went out and put a ton of pressure on LBJ and their rushing attack,” Doty said. “We made their quarterback make quick decisions, and they put the ball on the ground because of it.”
LBJ came into the Class 4A Division 1 state championship averaging 49.5 points per game, but didn’t manage half that total as the Jackets’ defense consistently came up with big plays and stops.
The title win is the sixth in Yellow Jacket football history, with the last one coming in 2012. It is Doty’s first state title as a coach – he has another at Stephenville from his playing days.
The Yellow Jackets had a brutal playoff run, defeating the cream of the crop in Class 4A, including Argyle, Melissa and Wichita Falls Hirschi – three teams who were very competitive and challenging for Stephenville.
Stephenville 38, LBJ Austin 21
Stephenville … 14 … 7 … 7 … 7 LBJ Austin … 0 … 7 … 7 … 7
FIRST QUARTER SV — Coy Eakin 16 pass from Ryder Lambert (Corbin Poston kick), 5:58 SV — Eakin 7 run (Poston kick), 4:39 SV — Poston 26 field goal, 0:46
SECOND QUARTER SV — Eakin 43 pass from Lambert (Poston kick), 2:21 LBJ — Noah Baker 33 pass from Oscar Gordon (Edguardo Sandoval kick), 0:58
THIRD QUARTER SV — Kallan Kimbrough 10 fumble recovery (Poston kick), 10:54 LBJ — Sedrick Alexander 29 pass from Gordon (Sandoval kick), 3:56
FOURTH QUARTER SV — Eakin 31 pass from Lambert (Poston kick), 11:09 LBJ — Baker 30 pass from Gordon (Sandoval kick), 8:09
TEAM STATISTICS …………………… SV … LBJ First Downs … 20 … 27 Rushes-Yards … 34-115 … 33-65 Passing … 258 … 372 Comp-Att-Int … 16-29-2 … 30-48-1 Fumbles-Lost … 1-0 … 5-5 Penalties-Yards … 12-102 … 6-34
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS RUSHING: Stephenville, Julian Iribarren 10-42, Ryder Lambert 9-30, Coy Eakin 6-25, Tate Maruska 2-(-2). LBJ Austin, Sedrick Alexander 19-32, Oscar Gordon 10-30, Trenton Leary 1-(-4).
PASSING: Stephenville, Ryder Lambert 16-29-258. LBJ Austin, Oscar Gordon 30-48-372.
RECEIVING: Stephenville, Coy Eakin 9-187, Reece Elston 6-58, Kallan Kimbrough 1-13. LBJ Austin, Trenton Leary 8-85, Fatu Mukuba 8-46, Keilan Rogers 5-82, Sedrick Alexander 5-81, Noah Baker 4-78.