Turnovers doom Stephenville in 24-14 loss to Abilene Wylie

CALEB MCCAIG cmccaig@empiretribune.com
The Stephenville defense played as well as a unit could Friday night in a deceptive 24-14 loss to Abilene Wylie.

The season finale for the Yellow Jackets didn’t go as they scripted it Friday night in Abilene as they fell to the Bulldogs 24-14. 

The Wylie offense got off to a quick start as they opened the game with the ball and drove down the field before hitting a 26-yard field goal to open the scoring. 

Trailing 3-0, Stephenville couldn’t get anything going as they went three and out and gave the ball back to the Bulldogs. 

The next possession though marked the beginning of one of three plays in the game which led to the Yellow Jackets demise. After the Stephenville defense once again held strong in the red zone to force a fourth down, Wylie attempted a pass play which fell incomplete. However, a flag was thrown for defensive pass interference on what was certainly a very questionable call. The penalty gave Wylie a fresh set of downs, instead of turning the ball over to Stephenville, which they eventually punched in for a touchdown and a 10-0 lead. 

While the officials made their impact on the first Bulldog touchdown, the next two impactful plays were some that Stephenville could have avoided. 

After stopping Wylie early in the second quarter and forcing a punt near midfield, the ball was muffed in Stephenville territory. During the chaos that ensued in the recovery the ball was eventually picked up by a Wylie player in the Stephenville end zone for a touchdown and a 17-0 Bulldog lead. The next play came after an impressive offensive drive by the Yellow Jackets which resulted in a touchdown pass from quarterback Easton Jones to Josh Nowell and another defensive stop by Stephenville when a pass went off a Stephenville receivers hands and was intercepted by a Wylie player on the Yellow Jackets 11-yard line. Several plays later Wylie found the end zone again to put the nail in Stephenville’s coffin.

“The pass interference was huge and I still don’t understand exactly what that was,” said Stephenville head coach Greg Winder after the game. “They threw the flag late and I thought the ball was batted down and incomplete, but they said he interfered. The muffed punt was another seven points for them and on the interception Easton threw a good pass, but it just went off of a receivers hands and they made a play.” 

Stephenville mistakes turning into points isn’t something that’s new this year, and Winder admitted that after the game. 

“Teams for the most part aren’t beating us, we’re beating ourselves,” he said. “We keep giving up points when we don’t need to and that’s not good.” 

One positive takeaway from the game for the Yellow Jackets was the performance of their defense. 

Out of Wylie’s 12 offensive possessions, the defense only allowed three scoring drives, one of which included the pass interference call on fourth down and the other being with Wylie beginning on the Stephenville 11-yard line. On the night, the defense also only allowed 193 total offensive yards.

“Our defense played great tonight against a good Wylie offense,” said Winder. “I told them that we’re going to win some games in the playoffs if they keep playing like that. They played really well.”

With the loss Stephenville fell to 3-6 on the season and 1-3 in district play. They’ll play Decatur in the first round of the playoffs next Friday in Aledo with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m.