Stephenville stuns 4A No. 2 Aledo

BRAD KEITH brad.keith@empiretribune.com
Stephenville head coach Joe Gillespie took a run with the giant Yellow Jacket flag moments after his team finished a 41-28 victory over Aledo at Tarleton Memorial Stadium Friday night.

When head coach Joe Gillespie grabbed the giant Stephenville flag and went running down the home sideline in front of the Yellow Jacket faithful, it was clear how much this game meant.

His team played like it meant a great deal, too.

Stephenville rolled up 520 yards of offense and left Aledo behind from the start in a 41-28 stunner over the three-time defending 4A Division II champs at Tarleton Memorial Stadium Friday.

Tyler Jones paved the way for the 3A No. 8 Yellow Jackets, passing for 293 yards and three scores while rushing for 138 including a 42-yard TD. Two of his scores went to Jarrett Stidham, a sophomore wide out who amassed 173 yards on 11 catches.

"As skill players we watch film twice a day, so all week we were seeing soft spots (in Aledo's secondary) all week," said Jones. "We just found their weak spots and exposed them."

Stidham scored on back-to-back possessions on catches of 31 and 12 yards to blow the game open, pushing Stephenville's lead to 38-14 midway through the fourth quarter.

"I knew they were probably going to double team Brice (Gunter), so it was a good opportunity to step up and try to help make plays and help my team win," Stidham said. "We had a hard week of practice and really prepared the way we knew we would have to."

Aledo quarterback Pate Davis tried to rally the Bearcats with a one-yard keeper for a TD followed by a 61-yard scoring pass to Willie Gibson after a defensive stop. Davis found John Whatley for a two-point conversion pass, but the second two-pointer was dropped in the end zone, and Stephenville led 38-28 with 2:27 to go.

The Jackets recovered an onside kick - Gunter had the second after CJ Cline recovered the first - and Luis Garcia finished the scoring when his second field goal of the night - a 37 yarder after hitting a 41 yarder in the third - split the uprights with 38 seconds left.

Gunter had seven catches for 60 yards. Gibson hauled in seven for 91 for Aledo, ranked No. 2 in 4A.

Caleb Fysinger had Aledo's biggest play of the night, a 65-yard TD run that made it 24-14 midway through the third.

Stephenville had 27 first downs to Aledo's 14, though the Bearcats did finish with 408 yards of offense including 236 on the ground.

It was just the Yellow Jackets' second victory in their last seven meetings with Aledo including falling 33-0 in last fall's state quarterfinals. The Bearcats had won 12 straight, last losing to Lake Travis in their third game last year.

Asked if it was a statement game after the Jackets lost their No. 1 ranking in a season-opening 27-17 loss to Monterrey Prepa Tec (Mexico) a week prior, Jones said making statements is not Stephenville's concern.

"I hope so, but we're not worried about all that stuff now," said Jones. "The rankings don't matter; all that matters is that we're all in this together."

Gillespie was not surprised to see his team bounce back with such authority.

"I've been blessed to be here 18 years coaching-wise," Gillespie said. "Stephenville kids have been backed into corners many times in those 18 years, and they always respond some way."

Friday's response was one Gillespie, and those who witnessed his flag-bearing victory lap, won't soon forget.

Follow Brad Keith on Twitter @etsports