Lions fall to Stephenville 59-34

Mike Lee
Special to the Bulletin
Brownwood Bulletin

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 and 1-0 in district. Brownwood fell to 2-4, 0-1.

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.

“Blaize Espinoza did a good job at quarterback tonight except for those four plays where he had the turnovers,” Burnett said. “He didn’t make the right reads on the interceptions. He needs to be more patient and understand what he sees. On the interceptions, he was just trying to make a play.

“He was like all our other kids in that he didn’t quit tonight. Life is like this game tonight. You get beat up sometimes, and it’s all about how you respond. I thought we kept getting back up to fight again.”

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 was so good Friday that it wasn’t even slowed down by 17 penalties for 145 yards marked off against Stephenville.

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.

“We had them in some third-down situations, but our defense couldn’t get off the field against their offense,” Burnett said. “The four turnovers hurt us, and we had some untimely penalties, but the biggest thing was that our defense couldn’t make a play to get them off the field.”

Stephenville 59, Brownwood 34

Score by Quarters:

Stephenville 17 14 7 21— 59

Brownwood 14 0 7 13 — 34

First Quarter

ST — Kason Philips 37 run (Corbin Poston kick), 10:31

ST — Poston 24 FG, 8:01

BR — Royshad Henderson 79 run (Junior Martinez kick), 7:41

ST — Reese Young 1 run (Poston kick), 4:47

BR — Jason Jackson 58 pass from Blaize Espinoza (Martinez kick), 2:53

Second Quarter

ST — Philips 11 run (Poston kick), 7:01

ST — Malachi Arredondo 41 fumble return (Poston kick), 3:17

Third Quarter

ST — Philips 1 run (Poston kick), 4:02

BR — Jackson 58 pass from Espinoza (Martinez kick), 2:05

Fourth Quarter

ST — Philips 25 run (Poston kick), 9:51

ST — Philips 30 run (Poston kick), 8:53

BR — Dane Johnson 93 kickoff return (kick failed), 2:05

ST — Philips 24 run (Poston kick), 5:13

BR — Jackson 28 pass from Espinoza (Martinez kick), 2:21

Ste Bwd

First Downs 28 13

Rushes-Yards 44-363 23-150Passing Yards 310 219

Total Yards 673 369

Comp-Att-Int 24-34-0 9-15-3Punts 0-0 2-34Fumbles-Lost 2-0 1-1

Penalties-Yards 17-145 7-50

Individual StatisticsRUSHING: Stephenville – Kason Philips 26-274, Gavin Rountree 12-49, Santos Mata 1-22, Jeremiah Smith 3-11, Reese Young 1-1, Team 1-6. Brownwood – Royshad Henderson 16-145, Blaize Espinoza 7-5.

PASSING: Stephenville – Rountree 24-34-0 for 310. Brownwood – Espinoza 9-15-3 for 219.

RECEIVING: Stephenville – Trace Morrison 9-62, Coy Eakin 8-125, Reece Elston 4-44, Philips 2-74, Jackson Barkley 1-5. Brownwood – Jason Jackson 5-156, Malachi Revada 3-29, Dane Johnson 1-34.

RECORDS: Stephenville 3-3, 1-0 in District 5-4A Division I; Brownwood 2-4, 0-1.