SALADO — In football, momentum can be your best friend — or worst enemy.
The Stephenville High School Yellow Jackets experienced both feelings Friday night in their 61-45 non-district road loss at Eagle Stadium.
The Yellow Jackets seemed to have everything going their way as they built a 31-19 halftime lead. SHS stretched its lead to 38-19 by the 10:42 mark in the third quarter, but the Eagles outscored the Yellow Jackets 42-7 in the final 21 minutes of the game.
Salado’s 22-yard touchdown pass with nine minutes remaining in the third quarter was followed by a pair of TD runs by the Eagles as they gained the lead for the first time, 41-38, with 2:03 to go in the third quarter.
Salado, now 2-1 on the season, went on to build a 61-38 lead by the 3:56 mark in the fourth quarter before the Jackets notched their final TD, with 23 seconds left in the game.
"They were bringing more heat, and I didn’t make the right reads," SHS quarterback Gavin Rountree said on the field after the game. "We just came out in the second half and didn’t score points.
"We’ll bounce back as a team. We have a good, talented team, and our players have a good head on their shoulder."
Doty noted the significance of the major momentum change in his post-game comments, but added that the players are "resilient, tough and hard-nosed," and that "at the end of the day we’ve got a good football team."
Asked about what the game’s turnaround could be attributed to, said Doty, whose team is now 1-2 on the season. "I really think their level of execution and our lack of getting our guys in the right situation. We’ve got to stay strong for 48 minutes.
"Salado did a great job. They ran their offense extremely well. We’ve just got to have a higher execution level."
The Yellow Jackets’ strong first-half showing accounted for a large part of their overall total offensive output of 467 yards — with 286 yards passing and 181 yards rushing. SHS had 181 rushing yards as a team.
Rountree completed 20 of 32 passes, with four touchdown strikes — with two to Trace Morrison, one to Reece Elston and one to Kason Philips.
Morrison led SHS in receiving with six catches for 146 yards. Elston added 43 yards on three receptions, and Philips caught four passes for 33 yards.
Philips ran for a team-leading 104 yards and one TD. Rountree added 74 yards rushing on 10 carries.
The Yellow Jackets’ next game is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18, at Melissa High School.
Melissa was a 51-17 winner over Pottsboro Friday, as the Cardinals improved to 3-0.
In Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine’s preseason Class 4A Division I state rankings, Stephenville was listed at No. 11 and Melissa was No. 19.