ZEPHYR — Having reeled off five straight victories since a season-opening loss, the Zephyr Bulldogs were looking to keep their momentum on the positive side in their final outing before the start of District 15-A Division I action.
The Stephenville Faith Knights, ranked No. 5 in the Texas Association of Independent Athletic Organizations by sixmanfootball.com, had other plans, however, as they stunned the host Bulldogs, 78-44, Thursday night.
“I’m not going to take anything away from Stephenville Faith, they’re very athletic and I knew coming in they were going to throw the football well,” said Zephyr first-year head coach Brent Williamson. “A lot of their offense is timing and we didn’t really disrupt that timing tonight. We were out of place quite a bit tonight on the defensive side of the ball and offensively we didn’t do our job. I don’t where we were tonight, if it was because it was a Thursday night, but that shouldn’t be an excuse. We just didn’t come ready to play.”
Listed as 30-point underdogs by sixmanfootball.com, the Knights (4-1) generated 529 yards of total offense — 370 on the ground and 159 through the air — as they picked apart the Zephyr (5-2) defense.
The Bulldogs trailed 52-16 at halftime, mustering just 143 of their 360 total yards in the first two periods.
Leading 8-6 midway through the first period after a 9-yard touchdown run by Mason Rogers and two-point kick by Walter Simpson, the Bulldogs stuffed Faith on a fourth-and-3 at the Zephyr 8. But on the first snap of the Bulldogs’ next possession, Collier Jenkins snatched out of the air a pitch intended for Rogers and ran 15 yards into the end zone to put the Knights in front, 14-8.
Zephyr’s ensuing possession ended with a fumble at the Faith 20, and five plays later the Knights were back in the end zone on a 27-yard scoring toss from Nate Braun to Sawyer Breeding, as the Bulldogs faced a 22-8 deficit with 90 seconds to go in the opening period.
“That put us in a hole and we kept digging that hole a little bit deeper,” Williamson said of the two first-quarter giveaways. “It’s a good learning experience for us tonight and we’ll go back and watch some game film and hopefully these guys will understand what we’re telling them on the offensive side and the defensive side of the ball.”
Braun went on to rush for 274 yards and three touchdowns, while passing for 99 yards with three more scores and a pair of interceptions. James Michael caught a 60-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the game for Faith, and added 96 yards on the ground and two more scores. Laramie Burleson caught four passes for 45 yards and a touchdown, while Breeding made three grabs for 27 yards with a trip to the end zone.
Trailing 30-8 with 8:13 left in the second quarter, Zephyr tallied its second — and final — touchdown of the first half on a 20-yard toss from Devin Williams to Jerrick Woodcock.
Williams passed for 124 yards and a touchdown, rushed for 97 yards and a score and hauled in six receptions for 93 yards and two more touchdowns.
Woodcock pulled down five catches for 84 yards and a touchdown, Rogers rushed for 59 yards and two scores and Michael Seider threw for 95 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Trailing by 36 points at the start of the second half, the Zephyr offense showed signs of life, but the defense was still unable to corral Faith, which added four more touchdowns after the break.
The Bulldogs trimmed the deficit to 52-24 on a 7-yard scoring toss from Seider to Williams, followed by a Simpson kick, at 4:33 of the third. Then, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Zephyr crept within 58-30 when Seider and Williams again connected on a 33-yard scoring toss.
Zephyr and Faith then began trading touchdowns, as runs of 44 yards by Williams and 5 yards by Rogers accounted for the final Bulldog points, which made the score 71-44 with 6:44 remaining.
The Bulldogs have a bye next week, then open district action on Oct. 26 at home against Evant (5-1), which travels to Morgan Friday night.
“We get a week off so we have a lot of studying to do this next week,” Williamson said. “I guess this was a reality check for us tonight. I told the boys they got knocked down and hopefully we get back up from this and are ready to go to work Monday and get ready for district the next week.”