In a wild and crazy district opener Friday night for Stephenville, early turnovers proved costly despite several late chances for Stephenville to take the game late.
The mistakes began almost from the get go for the Yellow Jackets.
After starting their opening drive at their own 25-yard line, it only took two plays for the game's first turnover as Brownwood recovered a fumble in Stephenville territory.
Three plays and 44-yards later, Brownwood had a 7-0 lead after a 37-yard touchdown run.
Stephenville's ensuing drive didn't go much better.
The Stephenville offense appeared threatening as they advanced the ball close to midfield, but after five plays, the Lions had their second turnover after bringing in an interception in the end zone.
Brownwood once again took advantage of the stop as they took a 14-0 lead with less than four minutes remaining in the first quarter.
As the first half drew closer to ending, the Yellow Jackets finally found their first points of the game when Jake Gillispie hit a 37-yard field goal. Trailing by 11, Stephenville forced their first three and out of the game and took over with a chance to cut the lead to only four with less than three minutes remaining in the half.
After three straight plays, the Yellow Jackets managed to gain zero yards and were forced to punt the ball right back to the Lions. Brownwood wasted no time as they only needed one recorded play as they scored a 69-yard touchdown on a screen play. However, the Brownwood receiver was called for a personal foul for celebrating before he scored. The foul brought the ball back to the Stephenville 19-yard line and Brownwood responded with another touchdown pass on the next play which concluded the scoring in the half with Brownwood up 21-3.
While the first half was all about Brownwood pouncing on Stephenville's early mistakes, the second half was all about the Stephenville defense.
Brownwood's first possession of the half began what would become six straight possessions for the Lions that resulted in no-points and turnovers. Over those six drives, they ran 22 plays and recorded -44 yards, largely in part to two snaps going over the Brownwood punter's head.
Unfortunately, the Yellow Jacket defense wasn't the only stout unit at Tarleton's Memorial Stadium.
Brownwood also kept up their pressure as they forced three more turnovers in second half, including two fumble recoveries and another interception.
Stephenville scored their only touchdown on the night in the fourth quarter when quarterback Easton Jones hit receiver Kyle Lindsey for a 35-yard score.
Brownwood's next drive lasted only one play as safety Mason Holstein intercepted his second pass on the night for the Yellow Jackets and returned it to the Lions' 11-yard line.
With the possibility of tying the game, the Brownwood defense stood tall while Stephenville was left wondering what could have been as Brownwood intercepted a pass in the end zone to end any threat before ultimately icing things with a 58-yard touchdown run with 2:04 remaining in the game.
"You can’t turn the ball over. We’re driving down and turn the ball over, we have a great run and we turn the ball over," said Stephenville head coach Greg Winder. "When you play good teams you cannot turn the ball over, I’ve said it all year long and we’re learning this the hard way still."
Statistically, the game was somewhat balanced. Stephenville out-gained the Lions in total yardage 328 to 289, but Brownwood dominated the ground game with 205 rushing yards.
The other notable statistic was the five turnovers, three fumbles and two interceptions, for Stephenville compared to only two for Brownwood, which were both Mason Holstein interceptions.
"The second half we came out and our dang defense came out and gave us an opportunity to win the football game and we didn’t take advantage of it," said Winder. "Again, turnovers. We had some on defense, but our offense just made some costly errors."
Quarterback Easton Jones finished the night 17 of 30 for 200 yards and one touchdown.
Stephenville's rushing attack was once again led by Krece Nowak who ran the ball 22 times for 89-yards.
Conner Schmutz led the team in receptions with seven for 95-yards, while Kyle Lindsey had five catches for 105-yards and the lone touchdown.
The loss drops Stephenville to 1-6 on the season and 0-1 in district play.
The Yellow Jackets will be back in action next Friday night when they travel to take on Big Spring.