Using a balanced rushing attack, quick-strike passing game and stifling defense, Stephenson jumped out early and cruised to a 32-0 win over Southwest DeKalb.
The No. 4 Jaguars (4-0, 4-0 Region 6-AAAAA) set the tone from the start, taking the opening kickoff and marching 70 yards in nine plays, capped off by Austin Tevin’s 8-yard touchdown run.
The drive was highlighted by Tevin’s 44-yard run on 2nd and 12 from the Stephenson 40, which set up his own scoring run four plays later.
It was the first of three runs of 28 yards or more during the first half for the Jaguars, coming from three different running backs – Tevin, Evan Jones (49 yards) and Brandon Washington (28 yards).
“Right now, nobody can tell who our running backs are,” Stephenson coach Ron Gartrell said. “We had nine guys carry the ball last week, and seven of them scored touchdowns. We’ve just got a good group; our offensive line is doing a pretty good job.”
Stephenson followed up a Southwest DeKalb three-and-out with another long drive, this one going 72 yards in eight plays and ending with a Wisdom Nzidee field goal.
In the first quarter, Stephenson held the ball for 9:05 of the 12 minutes, coming away with 10 points, and the Panthers (3-2, 3-2) never recovered.
Meanwhile, the Jaguar defense wasn’t giving up much on the other side.
The Panthers only advanced past the 50-yard line once in the first half, when an interception return set them up at the Stephenson 41-yard line, down by just 10 early in the second quarter.
They got as far as the 19 before losses on the next couple of plays pushed them back, and then a bad snap on the field goal attempt spoiled their best chance to get back into the game.
Southwest never seriously challenged to score again on the night against a Stephenson defense that refused to let the ball get past it.
“We felt like our defense would play well if they didn’t give up big plays,” Gartrell said. “We’ve just got to keep getting better. The road gets tougher. We definitely didn’t expect the score to be like this. They just caught us on a night when we had a lot of things going.”
S 10 12 3 7 – 32
SD 0 0 0 0 – 0
S – Austin Tevin 8 run (Wisdom Nzidee kick)
S – Nzidee 22 FG
S – Jahmail Daniels 4 run (kick failed)
S – Taylor Henry 45 pass from Justin Holman (kick blocked)
S – Nzidee 30 FG
S – Raylen Elzy 9 pass from Holman (Nzidee kick)