Stephenville beats LBJ Austin 38-21 for 6th state football championship

Carson Field
Abilene Reporter-News
Stephenville's Coy Eakin scores one of his three touchdowns during the Class 4A Div. I state championship game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington against Austin LBJ Friday, Dec. 17, 2021.

ARLINGTON — Stephenville's defense imposed its will early in the Class 4A Division I state title game, and that allowed the Yellow Jackets to run away from LBJ Austin.

The Yellow Jackets recovered four fumbles in the first quarter, helping Stephenville beat the Jaguars 38-21. It marks Stephenville's sixth state title in program history.

"We’re just so proud of our football team and the way they have prepared all season," Stephenville head coach Sterling Doty said.

The Jaguars received the opening kickoff and sustained a good first drive, getting to the Stephenville’s 13-yard line before fumbling.

It was the beginning of a sloppy first quarter for LBJ. The Jaguars lost three more fumbles  in the quarter, allowing Stephenville to lead 17-0 after 12 minutes.

Stephenville wide receiver Coy Eakin catches a pass as Austin LBJ defensive back Trenton Leary covers during Friday's Class 4A Div. I state championship game in Arlington Dec. 17, 2021. Final score was 38-21, Stephenville.

“The war dogs went out and put a ton of pressure on LBJ and their rushing attack,” Doty said. “We made their quarterback (Oscar Gordon) make quick decisions, and they put the ball on the ground because of it.”

The Yellow Jackets forced another crucial fumble later in the game.

Leading 24-7 at the beginning of the third quarter, Stephenville quarterback Ryder Lambert threw into the end zone and into the hands of LBJ’s Noah Baker.

But Stephenville senior Coy Eakin punched the ball out of Baker’s hands and it went flying toward Stephenville receiver Kallan Kimbrough. Kimbrough caught it and ran it into the end zone, extending Stephenville’s lead to 31-7.

That head's up play put away the game.

“Our guys are taught to play till the whistle,” Doty said. “All of our offensive guys did that and we were able to get the ball out.”

LBJ’s roster is filled with dozens of playmakers, but they didn’t have much of an impact Friday. Stephenville held one of the state’s best offenses to 21 points after entering the game with an average of 49.5 points per contest.

Most impressive was how well the Yellow Jackets neutralized LBJ’s dynamic run game. In addition to the four first-quarter fumbles, Stephenville limited the Jaguars to 65 rushing yards and didn’t allow a rushing touchdown.

Stephenville wide receiver Kallan Kimbrough is tackled by Austin LBJ defensive back William Martin during Friday's Class 4A Div. I state championship game in Arlington Dec. 17, 2021. Final score was 38-21, Stephenville.

“When we had the ability to take them out of what they wanted to do,” Doty said. “That’s just a tribute to our defense and front seven. Our guys just play so hard.”

Stephenville’s offense started a few drives deep in LBJ territory, thanks to the fumbles or turnovers on downs. The Yellow Jackets finished the game with 373 offensive yards, averaging 6 yards per play.

Eakin was a top player for the Yellow Jackets on both sides of the ball. The senior wideout earned Offensive MVP honors, finishing with 187 yards and three touchdowns on nine receptions. He also forced a fumble, made two solo tackles and intercepted a pass.

Stephenville offensive lineman Mason Butchee recovers a fumble during Friday's Class 4A Div. I state championship game against Austin's LBJ high school in Arlington Dec. 17, 2021.

Reese Young, Stephenville’s senior inside linebacker, won Defensive MVP. He made 14 total tackles, seven of which were solo.

For the senior playmakers, it was more about playing one more game with the brotherhood than winning a state championship.

“It didn’t even matter,” Young said. “It was just the team and family we have here. It’s even better that we won. Those guys are my brothers.”

Eakin added, “We’re all family. It’s really nice to go out on a bang.”

Lambert had a strong game in the pocket, completing 16 of 29 pass attempts for three touchdowns. He also ran for 30 yards.

“Ryder led the offense, and Coy and Reese made plays,” Doty said.

Stephenville finished the season 16-0 to win its first state title since 2012. It also marks the first state championship of Doty’s tenure. 

Stephenville's Tytus Russell celebrates his team's win over Austin LBJ at Friday's Class 4A Div. I state championship game in Arlington Dec. 17, 2021. Final score was 38-21, Stephenville.

The Yellow Jackets had a daunting road to the state title, beating Argyle, Melissa and Wichita Falls Hirschi to reach Arlington. That prepared them to win when it mattered most.

“We were here, we played so well and we wanted to finish, just get that sixth state title,” Doty said. “I couldn’t be more proud of our guys.”

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Game summary

► Turning point: LBJ Austin had life on its first possession. The Jaguars took the ball all the way to Stephenville's 13-yard line before fumbling. The Yellow Jackets answered with a touchdown, and from there, the rout was on.

► Player of the game: Coy Eakin, WR/FS, Stephenville  — Eakin finished his final high school game with nine receptions for 187 yards and three touchdowns. He also forced a fumble and intercepted a pass in the secondary. 

► Key stat: Five fumbles. Stephenville's front seven had no trouble penetrating LBJ's line, leading to the ball on the ground five times. All five times, Yellow Jacket defenders swarmed and recovered the football.

► Coach Doty said: “We’re just so proud of our football team and the way they have prepared all season. We were here, we played so well and we wanted to finish, just get that sixth state title. I couldn’t be more proud of our guys.”

► Impact: Stephenville wins the Class 4A Division I state championship. 

Stephenville 38, LBJ Austin 21

Stephenville ... 14 ... 7 ... 7 ... 7

LBJ Austin ... 0 ... 7 ... 7 ... 7

FIRST QUARTER

SV — Coy Eakin 16 pass from Ryder Lambert (Corbin Poston kick), 5:58

SV — Eakin 7 run (Poston kick), 4:39

SV — Poston 26 field goal, 0:46

SECOND QUARTER

SV — Eakin 43 pass from Lambert (Poston kick), 2:21

LBJ — Noah Baker 33 pass from Oscar Gordon (Edguardo Sandoval kick), 0:58

THIRD QUARTER

SV — Kallan Kimbrough 10 fumble recovery (Poston kick), 10:54

LBJ — Sedrick Alexander 29 pass from Gordon (Sandoval kick), 3:56

FOURTH QUARTER

SV — Eakin 31 pass from Lambert (Poston kick), 11:09

LBJ — Baker 30 pass from Gordon (Sandoval kick), 8:09

TEAM STATISTICS

........................ SV ... LBJ

First Downs ... 20 ... 27

Rushes-Yards ... 34-115 ... 33-65

Passing ... 258 ... 372

Comp-Att-Int ... 16-29-2 ... 30-48-1

Fumbles-Lost ... 1-0 ... 5-5

Penalties-Yards ... 12-102 ... 6-34

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Stephenville, Julian Iribarren 10-42, Ryder Lambert 9-30, Coy Eakin 6-25, Tate Maruska 2-(-2). LBJ Austin, Sedrick Alexander 19-32, Oscar Gordon 10-30, Trenton Leary 1-(-4).

PASSING: Stephenville, Ryder Lambert 16-29-258. LBJ Austin, Oscar Gordon 30-48-372.

RECEIVING: Stephenville, Coy Eakin 9-187, Reece Elston 6-58, Kallan Kimbrough 1-13. LBJ Austin, Trenton Leary 8-85, Fatu Mukuba 8-46, Keilan Rogers 5-82, Sedrick Alexander 5-81, Noah Baker 4-78.