ABILENE - Only 12 minutes and five offensive plays into Friday night’s game, Stephenville was already on a roll.
And intent on revenge for a 64-57 loss in a District 3-4A matchup in October.
Big Spring would never recover as the rematch from the regular season went decidedly in Stephenville’s favor.
“The first four-and-a-half or five minutes of the ball game we played very, very well,” said Stephenville Coach Joseph Gillespie, “with the exception of their first drive. I’m very proud of our offense. This was a great team win. We continue to play like this, we have a great chance to keep this thing rolling.”
The Yellow Jackets exploded for three first-quarter touchdowns on the way to a convincing 59-32 victory Friday afternoon at Shotwell Stadium and a slot in next week’s regional final.
A 21-yard TD pass from quarterback Jarrett Stidham to wideout Austin Stufflebean capped a 25-yard, two play drive, set up by a 58-yard kick return by Jon Clark Giddings. Tied the score at 7-all just two-and-a-half minutes into the game.
Mason Yoes recovered a Big Spring fumble on the very next snap. A 25-yard completion to Josh Nowell and an 8-yard TD connection with Darian Brow gave the ‘Jackets the lead for good.
For good measure, a blocked punt by Stephenville’s special teams and a one-play possession – a 15-yard keeper by Stidham for a score – ended the opening quarter at 21-7.
The Yellow Jackets exploded for almost 600 yards of offense, led by Stidham’s 144 yards rushing and 263 yards passing. The senior, who was injured early in the first game between the two teams, ran for a pair of touchdowns and threw five more.
Stufflebean, snagged four passes for 75 yards, three of them for scores.
Sophomore Kaegun Williams ran for a 12-yard touchdown as part of his 15-carry, 124-yard game. He also added 133 yards on seven catches, including a 6-yard scoring strike from Stidham.
But the offense was not the only unit that was hot Friday afternoon. Stephenville’s defense limited Bog Spring to exactly half of its output in the first game, forced and recovered a pair of fumbles, and recorded three sacks of Big Spring QB Tobyn Tannehill.
“I’m pleased with the way we came out and played defensively,” Gillespie said. That’s our mentality. I think for whatever reason for the last several weeks, probably since the first time we played Big Spring, we got rattled a little bit and started playing not to get beat. That’s not who we are. That’s not our character. We really had to hone in to who we are.
“The last time we lined up against those cats, it seemed like it was 60 and to the house every time. I thought our kids did a great job.
In addition, the SHS special teams blocked a punt and kicker Michael Fick added a 20-yard field goal as time expired in the first half, boosting Stephenville’s lead to 45-20 at intermission.
“This was probably the most complete win, offense, defense, special teams, all aspects,” Gillespie said. “We just have to ride this momentum.”
The Yellow Jackets will take on the winner of Friday night’s other regional semifinal between Graham and Abilene Wylie.