Stephenville got the one it wanted most on Friday, avenging its four straight losses to Everman by running roughshod to a 44-17 win to move into the driver's seat in the District 8-4A title race at Tarleton Memorial Stadium.
Junior running back James Myles and sophomore quarterback Connor Washington each had the best game of their young careers. Myles amassed 251 all-purpose yards - 157 rushing, 52 receiving and 42 on a kickoff return - and Washington was 17-22 passing for 196 yards and three TDs.
T.R. Varnado made three tackles behind the line of scrimmage and Michael Price intercepted a pass to lead a stout defensive effort that held Everman's vaunted offense to just 235 total yards.
The Yellow Jackets broke open a 14-10 game with 30 consecutive points, including 23 in the third quarter. They improved to 5-2 on the season and 4-0 in 8-4A, while Everman fell to 5-2 and 3-1.
"I walked off that field in Waco (after falling to Everman in the 4A Division II quarterfinals) last year and immediately looked up the date of this game, and I've thought about it every day since then," Stephenville head coach Joseph Gillespie said. "We wanted to conquer this wall and our kids went out and conquered it tonight."
The offensive line opened up gaping holes for Myles, who carried the ball 23 times and scored on runs of 13, 8 and 1 yards, and kept the pressure off Washington, who was never sacked while tossing scoring passes of 41 and 29 yards to Charlie Riola and six yards to Cole Stokes.
"I love my offensive line," Myles said. "Without those guys James Myles is nothing. No words can describe how good it felt to go out and execute so well as a team after working so hard all week to get ready."
Washington agreed wholeheartedly.
"The offensive line played great," Washington said. "They gave me a lot of time to throw the ball and they gave James room to run. Most of my completions came off flash fakes. I faked the ball to James to suck in the linebackers and then threw it over them. Without the offensive line none of that is possible."
Gillespie thought the line play on both sides of the ball was the difference in the game.
"You can't be explosive offensively or dominant defensively without playing good in the trenches and we did that on both sides of the ball tonight," Gillespie said.
Defensively, Varnado, a senior and four-year letterman, camped out in the Everman backfield along with sophomore linemate Russell Cole. It also helped that linebackers Jarred Slemmons and Michael Price, among others, made tackles all over the field, and that safety Aiavion Edwards was in position for three touchdown-saving tackles.
The teams traded punches early on, with Stephenville jumping on top on the first Washington-to-Riola TD and Everman answering with the first of Ruben Fletcher's two rushing scores from three yards out.
The Jackets took the lead for good on Myles' first scoring run early in the second. Everman pulled within four on a Daniel Cruz 31-yard field goal, but would get no closer.
Myles scored again to make it 21-10 at the break, and Cole Stokes padded the lead with his short TD catch early in the third.
That's when Everman fell apart, as the first of two bad punt snaps resulted in a safety when punter James Bailey was forced to fall on the ball as Price tackled him in the end zone.
Myles ran the ensuing Bulldog kickoff all the way back to the 14-yard line, then darted to his third score four plays later to make it 37-10.
Price's interception ended the next Everman drive, and it took only one play for Stephenville to capitalize as Washington found Riola open behind the defense to finish the Yellow Jackets' scoring late in the third.
Fletcher, who paced Everman with 130 yards on 15 carries, raced 58 yards to pay dirt early in the fourth, but it was too little, too late.
Everman upset Stephenville in 2006, resulting in a three-way tie between the Jackets, Bulldogs and Aledo for a district championship. In 2007 the Bulldogs used overtime to knock off then-No. 1 Stephenville 31-28. Everman scored repeatedly on defense in a 56-3 rout of the Jackets in the regular season last year, before overcoming a 17-0 deficit to eliminate Stephenville 27-24 in the quarterfinals of the D2 playoffs.
Friday night, however, was Stephenville's time to shine.
"This win is monumental," Washington said. "It's a very big win for our team and for our program."