STEPHENVILLE- It hasn’t been the most stellar of offensive performances from the Stephenville Yellow Jackets (2-1) early in the season, but one thing we do know is the ‘Jackets can play defense. They showed that defensive prowess Friday night in a hard fought 10-7 win over the Everman Bulldogs (2-1) at Tarleton Memorial Stadium.
Stephenville kicker Jake Gillespie nailed a 24 yard field goal with 17 seconds left for the winning margin of victory. The drive was anchored by Stephenville backup QB Josh Nowell who stepped in for sophomore QB Easton Jones and rushed for 33 yards on the final drive to put Stephenville in position to win. Stephenville’s defense was the story as they contained Everman RB Kierre Crossley allowing just 96 yards rushing on 27 carries.
It was Everman who jumped out quickly taking the opening kickoff and marching down the field, scoring on a three yard run by Crossley to take a 7-0 lead. The Bulldogs would force a Stephenville four and out on the next series and again the offense methodically moved the ball down the field, but on 4th and 1 from the seven yard line, Coach Keeling elected to go for it and the Stephenville defense held Crossley to no gain forcing a turnover on downs.
The remainder of the first half would settle into a field position battle with Stephenville slowly titling the field in their favor, late in the first half the ‘Jackets would break through as on 4th and 1 from the Everman 18, Coach Winder called a QB boot and Jones fond Malachi Taylor in the flat and he made two nice moves to stroll into the end zone to tie the game at seven.
The third quarter looked much like the second with a field position battle taking place and neither offense establishing any rhythm. With about five minutes left in the game Everman appeared to get the break they needed, as Alex Ragster picked Jones off near midfield and returned the interception all the way to the Stephenville 27. After a first down, Everman moved the ball down to the SHS ten yard line facing third and five. Everman then had two consecutive mental errors as they picked up a delay of game and a twelve man in the huddle penalty which turned a 3rd and five from the ten, to 3rd and 15 from the 20. An incomplete pass later and Everman would miss a 37 yard field goal wide left. Stephenville would take the ball at the twenty and slowly march down the whittling away most of the game clock to set up the game winning kick.