STINGING LOSS: El Campo's title hopes dashed by Stephenville

Taylor Mitchell By Taylor Mitchell

Dec. 15, 2012 at 6:15 a.m.

El Campo defensive lineman Trey Martin bursts off the line during the fourth quarter of Friday's Class 3A, Division I championship game against Stephenville in Arlington.

El Campo defensive lineman Trey Martin bursts off the line during the fourth quarter of Friday's Class 3A, Division I championship game against Stephenville in Arlington.   Frank Tilley for The Victoria Advocate

ARLINGTON - Forty-five years ago, in the Class 3A state championship game between El Campo and Brownwood, the Lions jumped out to a 23-0 lead on their way to a 36-12 victory.

On Friday night at Cowboys Stadium, the Ricebirds (14-1) once again found themselves in a deep hole in the Class 3A, Division I championship game when Stephenville (13-1) jumped out to a 21-0 first quarter lead as the Yellow Jackets won their fifth state championship in school history, 70-35.

"We couldn't stop them. Simple as that," said senior captain Cole Hunt . "We put up enough points, but we couldn't stop them."

Tyler Jones threw three touchdown passes in the first half to build Stephenville's 21-0 lead, and the Ricebirds didn't get on the scoreboard until the final play of the first quarter when senior Jack Davis sprinted 15 yards to the right side.

"Our brand of football isn't to get into a scoring fest with another team," El Campo coach Bob Gillis said. "We couldn't get a stop before halftime, but were able to come out of the half and score to make it a seven-point ball game."

Jones, who committed to play at Texas State next season and was also the game's offensive MVP, had just seven incomplete passes on the night with five passing touchdowns and only one interception. He also showed his running ability with two first-half touchdowns, including an 11-yard run that put the Yellow Jackets up 35-21 at halftime. He finished the game with 125 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

"I told anybody that would listen that he is the guy that makes them go," Gillis said. "If he wasn't there they wouldn't be here."

El Campo never came up with an answer to Jones, but trailed by just seven points late in the third quarter, thanks to a 44-yard touchdown run by quarterback Bryce Brandl. However, Jones aswered with a 32-yard run of his own and and the Yellow Jackets' defense forced the Ricebirds into a punt before Jones struck again with a 28-yard run that brought the score to 56-35.

"We finally got going, and then we lost our momentum on that fourth-and-one stop," Gillis said. "We never regained it and they kept scoring."

El Campo finished the game with 393 total yards, 266 of which came on the ground. Brandl led the Ricebirds with 288 total yards of offense and three touchdowns. He also completed 8 of 12 passes and had one interception.

Jones' 11-yard scoring run, his second of the night, came after the Ricebirds made things interesting with back-to-back scores in the second quarter.

With eight and a half minutes to go in the first half, Brandl broke a pair of tackles and sprinted to the front of the end zone, cutting Stephenville's lead to 28-14.

After a Koy Kresta interception on the ensuing possession for Stephenville, the Ricebirds drove 35 yards in six plays and cut the deficit to just seven with Montray Johnson's 2-yard run with 3:47 left in the first half.

However, a personal foul penalty following the touchdown gave the Yellow Jackets excellent field position from their own 32. Eleven plays later, Jones scrambled to the right side to give his Yellow Jackets a halftime lead.

The 35 points scored by Stephenville in the first half was the most El Campo's defense has allowed in a game this season.

Despite the offensive dominance of Stephenville, the Ricebirds were never fully out of the game until Brandl was stopped for a one-yard gain at his own 30-yard line midway through the fourth quarter. El Campo elected to punt the ball down 56-35.

Stephenville went on to add two more scores to their total. Jones scored his ninth touchdown when Jarrett Stidham beat Davis on a simple go route for a 63 yard touchdown. On the ensuing drive for El Campo, Brandl threw his only interception, which was returned for a score by Tyler Pettit.

"We just didn't stop them," Gillis said.



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