When the offense isn’t clicking, either the defense or special teams has to step up.
Those two units did just that for Stewart Middle as the Eagles advanced to the championship game with an 18-0 victory over Fairplay on Tuesday at Jimmy Johnson Stadium.
Jaylen Thomas recovered a fumble for a touchdown and Xavion Oseborne returned a kick for a score for Stewart, which will play Mason Creek for the title at Douglas County High next week.
The Eagles didn’t need long to jump ahead in the first quarter when Thomas stripped quarterback Malik Kemp and picked up the ball near midfield for a 54-yard TD and a 6-0 lead.
Despite its struggles on offense, Stewart forced the Jaguars to punt away their next possession then turn the ball over on downs on their next drive, leading to the score remaining the same when the half ended.
After the break, the Eagles received the kickoff to restart play and Oseborne put his speed on display. He corralled the bouncing ball at the 16, sprinted across the field and turned up the sideline for an 84-yard run to the end zone with 7:29 left in the quarter.
Early in the fourth period, Fairplay was on the verge of halving the deficit at Stewart’s 10 but Thomas sacked Kemp for a momentum-shifting, nine-yard loss.
After the Jaguars turned the ball over on downs on the next play, Stewart’s offense finally did some damage. On the second play of the drive, Oseborne had a 46-yard run. Two plays later, he completed a 28-yard pass to Tyshaun Boyd and then another pass to Boyd, who stretched out for a 10-yard touchdown with 3 minutes to go.
Thomas led all rushers with 87 yards on seven carries. Stewart limited Fairplay to 58 rushing yards.