Watauga cruises past St. Stephens 42-21
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Watauga struck fast and often in its 42-21 victory over St. Stephens Friday night at Jack Groce Stadium in the first Northwester Conference game for both teams.
The Pioneers (5-0, 1-0 NWC) scored 21 points in the first five minutes of the game. They held a 36-7 lead by halftime and although St. Stephens (0-5, 0-1) rallied for two second-half touchdowns, the Indians were never any threat to take the game away from the Pioneers.
"Our goal going in was to start fast," Pioneers coach Ryan Habich said. "We wanted to throw the ball and go right at them and not be passive. We knew we had to get a lead early on so we could stop them a little bit with our offense."
Watauga used an efficient offense and a bit of special teams thievery to built its lead. Zach Williams got the Pioneers on the scoreboard first by capping a game-opening, 63-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run.
The Pioneers' special teams sent a lightning bolt through the stadium on the ensuing kickoff. Anthony Dieters stripped the ball away from D.J. Lynch at the 22-yard line and raced unchallenged into the end zone for a touchdown.
Dieters nearly had another fumble recovery by nearly stripping the ball away on another kickoff, but the play had been blown dead.
"He's a good defensive player and he's a good special teams player," Habich said of Dieters. "He's got a knack for the ball and he's aggressive."
Watauga needed 16 seconds on its next drive to score when Aaron Dobbins found T.J. Poulos for an 80-yard touchdown completion. Poulos suggested the play, a wheel route, after noticed that the St. Stephens cornerback was coming up quickly to cover the out route.
Dobbins faked a throw to Poulos in the flat, and found the junior wingback well behind the Indians' secondary.
"When we lined up in stack the first drive, I ran the out route and they kind of jumped it," Poulos said. "I told coach that if I ran an out and up, they would jump it. Coach told me to run a wheel route and have Aaron pump fake the out. The corner bit on it just a tad and it got me open."
Dobbins, who connected on 7-of-9 passes for 206 yards, added a 25-yard touchdown pass to Poulos in the second quarter. Poulos drifted behind the Indians' secondary in the back of the end zone. He managed to keep both feet inbounds after making a leaping catch.
Dobbins also tossed a 37-yard touchdown pass to Cam Baker, which gave the sophomore quarterback three TD throws without an interception.
Dobbins has thrown for 11 touchdowns in four games this season with no interceptions. St. Stephens went into the game allowing a 77 percent completion rate for the 2013 season. Dobbins did not throw in incompletion until the third quarter when he tossed two in a row on the only three-and-out drive the Pioneers had all game.
"I didn't know that," Dobbins said of the Indians' completion rating. "We were just going to try to mix it up a bit and see what we could do best."
Poulos added a 13-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, giving him three TDs before halftime. The Pioneers piled up 389 yards in total offense.
Williams provided 102 of those yards on the ground. Williams converted a third-and-one with a 47-yard run late in the fourth quarter than helped run out the clock.
"It felt good. I wish I could have had the speed to take it all the way," Williams said. "It was just a veer. It was a big hole and I got past the secondary."
St. Stephens' offense, particularly its running game, proved to be difficult for the Pioneers to stop. Janarion Knox ran for 130 yards on 22 carries, including an 8-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
Quarterback Spencer Brown added 98 yards and a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs. The Indians finished with 271 yards on the ground and 302 yards in total offense.
Watauga plays at Fred T. Foard this Friday. The Tigers are 0-5 overall and 0-1 in the NWC after losing to Freedom on Friday.
Watauga 42, St. Stephens 21
St. Stephens 0 8 6 7 -- 21
Watauga 21 15 0 6 -- 42
WHS--Williams 7 run (Shirley kick)
WHS--Dieters 22 fumble return (Shirley kick)
WHS--Dobbins 80 pass to Poulos (Shirley kick)
WHS--Dobbins 25 pass to Poulos (Ebaugh run)
WHS--Poulos 13 run (Shirley kick)
SSHS--Brown 1 run (Brown pass to Lynch)
SSHS--Knox 8 run (Run failed)
WHS--Dobbins 37 pass to Baker (Shirley kick)
SSHS--Brown 1 run (Vo kick)
Watauga St. Stephens
First downs 14 21
Rushes-yards 24-183 59-271
Passing yards 206 31
Passes 7-9-0 4-5-0
Total plays-yards 31-389 64-302
Fumbles-lost 1-1 2-2
Rushing: St. Stephens--Knox 22-130, Brown 18-98, Chambers 5-30, Richardson 4-18, Kinson 2-11, Phillips 6-4, Carpenter 1-1, Watts 1-(21); Watauga--Williams 13-102, Poulos 4-45, Northern 3-19, Dobbins 2-16, Goetz 1-1.
Passing: St. Stephens-- Brown 4-5-0 31; Watauga--Dobbins 7-9-0 203.
Receiving: St. Stephens--Sutton 2-15, Knox 1-14, Richardson 1-2; Watauga--Baker 3-73, Poulos 2-105, Isaacs 1-21, Ford 1-7.