WEATHERFORD - The old adage that turnovers get you beat rings loud and clear in football and in the Texas High School Playoffs turning the ball over is like digging your own grave. For the Everman Bulldogs (6-4), three critical third quarter turnovers turned what was a close game into 49-23 rout in favor of the Stephenville Yellow Jackets (9-2).
Stephenville took the opening kickoff and after a big run by Witt Westbrook inside the Everman five it appeared SHS was poised to take the lead. However, junior QB Tyler Jones was blasted by Everman LB Torey Boozer and was a bit shaken up on 2nd and goal. On 3rd and goal, Stephenville brought in a freshman QB and he rushed the exchange with Westbrook and Everman recovered the fumble. Everman would hold the ball for the next eight minutes on an 18 play drive that moved the ball from their own 3 to the Stephenville 38, but the Bulldogs were stopped on downs ending the threat.
After a Stephenville three and out, Everman would take just four plays to get on the board as Pat Small scored from 32 yards out putting the Bulldogs up 6-0 early in the second as there was a bad snap on the PAT try. Stephenville would answer on the ensuing drive with an impressive march capped by a three yard pass from Jones to Padyn Giebler making the score 7-6 Stephenville. The back and forth continued as Everman answered right back with a 34 yard touchdown run from Small to extend the lead to 12-7 as the two point try was failed.
After a great kickoff return by Brice Gunter into Everman territory, the 'Jackets would take the lead for good at 15-12 on a one yard run by Jones who had a hand in six Stephenville touchdowns on the night, Westbrook ran in the two point try for Stephenville and at the half we appeared to be on our way to another thrilling finish in this great rivalry. However, things would fall apart quickly for Everman in the third quarter.
On the first play of the second half, Everman quarterback Devynn Birdow mishandled a snap from center and Stephenville would recover and on their first play Jones hooked up with a wide open Hunter Bernays for a 29 yard touchdown pass to put SHS up 22-12. After an Everman field goal to cut the edge to 22-15, Stephenville would blow the game open as Westbrook would haul in two 14 yard touchdown passes, the second coming after an Everman fumble to put SHS up 36-15. On the ensuing drive the onslaught continued as Braden Coverdale returned an interception 40 yards for a score to blow the game open at 43-15 at the end of three.
The teams traded scores in the fourth quarter, but the result was no longer in doubt. Jones, who took over as the Stephenville quarterback in the second quarter of their season opener accounted for all six Stephenville scores as he threw for four touchdowns and ran for two more scores. He threw for 225 yards on the night. Everman which outgained Stephenville 442 yards to 392 yards got a strong game from Pat Small who ran for 91 yards and two scores along with hauling in one pass for 22 yards.
Stephenville which won their 20th bi-district playoff game in the past 23 years will take on Trophy Club Nelson next Thursday night at 7:30pm at Cowboys Stadium in a Class 4A Division II Region I Area Playoff.