Stephenville’s defense forced turnovers and the offense turned in one big play after another in dominating Cleburne 53-20 Friday night in the 2017 season football opener for both teams.

The big win avenged the Yellow Jackets’ 66-40 loss to Cleburne’s Yellow Jackets that had started the 2016 season.

Running back Krece Nowak scored four of the eight touchdowns for SHS, while quarterbacks Tyler Schouten and Cole Stanley threw one scoring strike apiece. Nowak scored on bursts of 15, 73, 32 and 54 yards.

Schouten’s TD pass was from 32 yards out to Kade Averhoff. Stanley connected with Kyle Lindsey on a 24-yard toss. Blake Aragon had the other SHS score on an end-around play that went for 26 yards, and grabbed a 2-point conversion pass. Aragon also caught a 27-yard pass that was wiped out by a holding penalty, but led to a 33-yard field goal by Chase Carrillo.

The defense set the tone all night in forcing turnovers, with Cole Pettit getting an interception and a fumble recovery. Clay Krause added a fumble recovery. An interception by Gage Graham was erased by a penalty.

Pettit’s pried the ball out of the hands of a Cleburne receiver for his interception early in the game, setting up Nowak’s 15-yard TD run a few plays later, giving SHS an early 7-0 lead.

Stephenville jumped on the visiting Yellow Jackets for a 22-0 lead by the 8:22 mark in the opening quarter, and held a 39-7 halftime advantage. 

“We kicked off and the defense came out and put it on ‘em and they were real physical with ‘em and created turnovers and the offense scored points. It’s what we talked to them about, how to start a game and how to finish a game.”

Nowak said the offensive output was due to the work of the offensive line, and said he “didn’t see any missed tackles” on defense.

“The defense had an amazing game,” Nowak said. “The line was really coming off the ball.”

Stephenville’s next game will be on the road, Friday Sept. 8 at Springtown. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.