Stephenville fans may have been double checking their game programs to be sure of Holton Westbrook’s classification.
Rest assured, it’s not a misprint. Westbrook really is a sophomore. But he played more like a seasoned veteran Friday night.
Westbrook intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown as Stephenville (3-2, 2-0) posted its second shutout in three games in a 31-0 rout of Mansfield Timberview (3-2, 2-1) in a District 8-4A game at Tarleton Memorial Stadium.
“It was a big game and we knew we had to step up and get to 2-0 (in district),” Westbrook said. “We just have to keep fighting. We want to be district champions.”
Timberview, which was held below 200 yards of total offense (189) for the first time this season, appeared on its way to the end zone for an early lead until Westbrook stepped in front of a pass in the flat and picked it off at the goal line.
After the linebacker returned the interception to the four, it took James Myles just one play to barrel through a big hole in the middle of the line and race away for a 96-yard touchdown to get Stephenville on the board.
“That was huge, it was a 14-point swing,” Stephenville head coach Joseph Gillespie said. “They were driving on us and we couldn’t make defensive adjustments fast enough, but Holton made a great play and James took care of the rest.”
Myles, who rushed 22 times for career-best 199 yards, was quick to deflect credit to the offensive line.
“I’m nothing without those guys,” Myles said. “They have to do what it is they do before I can do anything.”
German Chavarria nailed a 32-yard field goal to make it 10-0 in the second before Westbrook made another big play.
A pass was tipped, then ricocheted off a receiver’s helmet right into Westbrook’s hands for the second of five Timberview turnovers.
Just four plays and 52 seconds later Stephenville was celebrating in the end zone after Connor Washington connected with Cole Stokes on a 39-yard TD pass for a commanding 17-0 lead with just more than a minute left in the half.
The teams exchanged turnovers early in the third before Timberview had a deep snap go over its punter’s head. The ball landed inside the five, squirted out from under a pile of bodies and came to rest in the end zone. That’s where the opportunistic Westbrook fell on it for his second touchdown of the season. His first was a fumble return against Brownwood on Sept. 11.
The Jackets then looked to Myles to be the closer and he delivered, carrying the ball seven times for 35 yards including his second touchdown, this one from one yard out early in the fourth.
“We got exactly what we needed from James and our O-line tonight,” Gillespie said. “James and several of our guys were fighting the flu all week, but they came together and played well.”
Stephenville gained a season-high 394 yards of offense. When Myles and company weren’t doing damage on the ground, Washington was doing it through the air, going 14-25 passing for 157 yards.
But it was the defense that stole the show, holding Timberview to 99 yards below its season average for total offense and forcing five turnovers. T.R. Varnado had two sacks among a handful of tackles for loss to lead the Jackets in dominating the line of scrimmage.
“We’re playing pretty well and its only week five. The scary part is I can still see a lot of things we need to work on,” Gillespie said. “I think our kids are starting to realize we have the chance to be very good and to do something special.”