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Jackets thump Brownwood in district opener, 59-34

Staff Writer
Stephenville Empire-Tribune
Stephenville players set up a wall of protection for quarterback Gavin Rountree (8) as he looks for a receiver on a rollout during Friday's district football opener in Brownwood.

By Mike Lee

Special to the Empire-Tribune

BROWNWOOD – It didn’t matter Friday night if the Stephenville Yellow Jackets’ offense was starting at its own 3-yard line, overcoming one of 17 penalties or responding to a Brownwood kickoff return for a touchdown. The Yellow Jackets, it seemed, scored from anywhere in any situation.

Stephenville beat the Brownwood Lions 59-34 in the District 5-4A Division I football opener at Gordon Wood Stadium as the Jackets amassed 673 total yards of offense. Running back Kason Philips was the biggest offensive star on a team full of them Friday, rushing for 274 yards and six touchdowns on runs of 37, 11, 1, 25, 30 and 24 yards.

Stephenville quarterback Gavin Rountree completed 24 of 34 passes to five different receivers for 310 yards. Incredibly, he didn’t pass for a touchdown — mainly because Philips kept breaking scoring runs before Rountree had a chance to throw for a TD.

The Jackets’ efficient offense put together scoring drives of 97, 87, 75 and 75 yards. Receivers Coy Eakin and Trace Morrison combined for 17 catches for 187 yards.

“They’ve been scoring a lot of points lately,” Brownwood coach Sammy Burnett said of Stephenville. “They scored 58 points on a good Melissa team, 46 last week against a good Dumas team, and 59 on us tonight. They’re clicking on all cylinders.

“Most of their skill players are seniors. They’ve been playing together for a long time. They understand what each other is going to do, and they execute very well.”

Stephenville improved to 3-3 overall with its second win in a row, and 1-0 in district. Brownwood fell to 2-4, 0-1.

“I think this just keeps the momentum alive that we built the last couple of games,” SHS head coach Sterling Doty, whose team will take on highly ranked Waco La Vega at home in Stephenville Friday. “We see growth from our team. That can be the product of a hungry football team. We’re going to enjoy this one, then put it to bed and the coaching staff will get busy on a plan (for La Vega) and we’ll go to work.”

Brownwood’s offense had a productive game in terms of yardage. The Lions finished with 369 total yards, including 219 yards and three touchdowns passing from backup quarterback Blaize Espinoza. Sophomore Jason Jackson caught five passes for 156 yards and three TDs of 58, 58 and 28 yards. Running back Royshad Henderson rushed for 145 yards and a 79-yard score for the Lions.

But that wasn’t nearly enough to keep pace with the Jackets’ 600-plus yards. The Lions also hurt themselves with four turnovers — three interceptions by Espinoza and a fumble by the quarterback on a sack that was returned 41 yards for a touchdown by Stephenville sophomore defensive end Malachi Arredondo. In all, the Jackets converted the Lions’ four turnovers into 17 points.

Espinoza, normally the Lions’ top linebacker on defense, played quarterback because sophomore starter Chance Jones was out with an ankle injury.

Even when Brownwood punted Stephenville back to its 3-yard line in the early in the third quarter, the Jackets’ offense went to work and drove 97 yards in 11 plays to score — facing only one third down during the entire possession. Rountree ran 14 yards to help the Jackets overcome a false start penalty, and Philips’s 1-yard touchdown run gave Stephenville a 38-14 lead with 4:02 left in the third quarter.

The Jackets’ offense looked so good Friday that it wasn’t even slowed down by 17 penalties for 145 yards marked off against them.

After Dane Johnson’s 93-yard kickoff return reduced Brownwood’s deficit to 52-27 with 8:37 left to play, Stephenville’s promptly drove 52 yards and scored on Philips’s sixth touchdown of the night on a 24-yard run with 5:13 left.