GATESVILLE — Gavin Rountree caught a pair of touchdown passes from quarterback Kade Renfro and Caden Cowan scored on two long runs Friday night at MKamie Stadium to help propel the Stephenville Yellow Jackets to a 49-24 football victory over Gatesville, securing the third-place playoff berth out of District 5-4A Division I.
Head coach Serling Doty’s Yellow Jackets accomplished several goals in addition to making their playoff hopes come true. He also wanted his Jackets to end their two-game losing skid and get the bad taste out of their mouths after losing back-to-back games, to third-ranked Waco La Vega and sixth-ranked Brownwood.
The blowout victory — in which SHS lead 35-3 at halftime and 42-3 early in the third quarter — also opened the door for multiple substitutions the rest of the way for players who haven’t had a lot of playing time to get game experience.
Another bonus was finishing the game with no new significant injuries.
The Jackets finished their regular season with a 5-4 mark and 2-2 in district, which secured third place in the district. Gatesville (0-9, 0-3) will close out its season on Friday at La Vega (8-1, 3-0), the defending state champion. La Vega locked down it second straight district title with a 31-14 win over Brownwood (8-1, 2-1). China Spring (3-6, 1-2) will close out its regular season against Brownwood, but already has the fourth-place playoff seed because of its head-to-head win over Gatesville.
As the third-place playoff seed, the Jackets will play the No. 2 team out of District 6, which will be either Fort Worth Dunbar or Lake Worth. Those two teams are scheduled to play each other this Thursday to determine second and third in that district.
After their district bye week, the Jackets will be preparing to have their bi-district test the following week.“The guys went out and took care of business,” Doty said. “Everybody did their job. It feels good to see us put it away, and a lot of our guys got experience that they haven’t gotten in previous games.
“Every week we’re fighting to be the best version of ourselves. Add that all up and we’ve got a chance to make a special playoff run.”
Junior linebacker Colton Accomazzo said, “After losing the last two, this was a real confidence booster. We wanted to get the momentum back on our side.”
Another key defensive performer at linebacker, senior Quentin Walker, said, “We all played well. All our gaps were sound and we played physical. At the end of the first half, we were all on fire. We’ve just got to take the bye week and prepare mentally.”
Renfro, who connected with Rountree on a 27-yard TD strike that put SHS up 14-0 at the 3:46 mark in the opening quarter and again from 6 yards out to give the Jackets a 28-3 edge with 4:47 to go in the second quarter, said, “Coming out and executing well is what we were focused on, coming out strong to sharpen everything up. We fell short against Brownwood. (Tonight) our line did great, and everybody hit all their jobs.”
SHS running back Kason Philips broke for an 87-yard touchdown run to open the scoring at the 8:39 mark in the opening quarter. Corbin Postin — one of five sophomores brought up from the junior varsity — kicked the extra point with place-kicker/punter Trace Morrison nursing a lower leg injury.
After Rountree (27-yard reception) and Cowan 65-yard run) recorded their first two scores to build Stephenville’s lead to 21-0, Gatesville kicked a 24-yard field goal to make it 21-3 with 1:07 left in the first quarter.
Rountree’s second TD catch followed, as the Jackets took a 28-3 lead with 4:47 left in the half.
Cowan broke for a 41-yard TD run with 2:25 left in the half as SHS claimed its 35-3 lead at intermission.
Austin Stidham carried for a 2-yard TD run early in the third quarter for a 42-3 advantage.
The Hornets then punched out three TDs — one in the third quarter and two in the fourth — including a 77-yard TD pass.
The Jackets capped their final drive with a 3-yard TD run by Eduardo Campos with just 32 seconds left in the game and Poston’s seventh extra point kick completed the scoring.