AUSTIN AMERICAN STATESMAN:  Breakout star Jaden Leonard’s 3 TDs help Stony Point past Bowie in season opener

AUSTIN AMERICAN STATESMAN: Breakout star Jaden Leonard’s 3 TDs help Stony Point past Bowie in season opener

By Colby Gordon / American-Statesman Correspondent

Posted Oct 2, 2020 at 6:23 AM Updated at 4:03 PM

Stony Point’s coaching staff thought Jaden Leonard would be a player the rest of Central Texas needed to know about by the end of the season.

Turns out, it may have only taken one night.

Leonard scored three touchdowns, rushing for two and catching another as part of a seven-reception, 114-yard performance as Stony Point broke in its young team with a 30-27 win over Bowie Thursday at Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex.

“I’m just excited to be out here trying to make plays and do the best I can,” said Leonard, a junior who scored all three of his touchdowns in the game’s first 16 minutes. “As an offense, we just focused on executing and everyone going out there and doing their role and their part. We opened things up, got the passing game going and were moving the football.”

Tigers sophomore quarterback Skylar Hausenfluck — another name local football fans should get used to hearing the next three years — threw for 236 yards and two scores, and the Stony Point defense made plays when it had to as it withstood a nearly 500-yard effort from the Bulldogs’ offense.

“We played a lot of sophomores, and when that happens, you’ll be up and down, but to beat a good football team like Bowie is pretty exciting,” Stony Point coach Craig Chessher said. “I told our kids we’re thrilled to win, but we have a lot of things to get corrected. But we think we’re going to be OK this year. Hopefully, we can continue to work and get better.”

Bowie, meanwhile, may be wondering how it lost after producing offensive fireworks like Jason Gaines hauling in 12 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Diego Tello throwing for 391 yards and three scores.

But a botched punt deep in their own territory, two turnovers on downs in the Tigers half of the field, an interception in the Stony Point end zone, a missed extra point and field goal and a sluggish third quarter haunted the Bulldogs.

“We made way too many mistakes and had way too many penalties,” Bowie coach Jeff Ables said. “But I thought our effort was really good, and it was a good, entertaining game. Honestly, under the current circumstances, I’m just glad we got to play.”

After it stopped Stony Point on fourth down on the game’s opening drive, Bowie struck first on Tello’s 30-yard touchdown pass to Gaines.

Stony Point answered on the ensuing drive with Hausenfluck’s 49-yard scoring pass to Leonard, then took a 14-7 lead when Leonard plunged into the end zone from the 2 after the Tigers were set up at the Bulldogs 18 following Bowie’s bungled punt.

The Bulldogs tied the game at 14-14 in the final seconds of the opening quarter on Noah Camacho’s 15-yard TD run that capped a 77-yard drive.

Leonard’s third and final touchdown came on a 4-yard run midway through the second quarter and gave the Tigers the lead for good.

Tello and Gaines hooked up for the final time on a 17-yard touchdown pass to bring the Bulldogs within 21-20 before Hausenfluck tossed a 6-yard TD to Ivan Villegas to end the half’s scoring.

“I think we kind of started out star-gazed, but we answered, scored and played really well in the first half,” Chessher said. “We had a lot of kids step up. Jaden did a great job, and (Hausenfluck) had a really good game.”

For Bowie, Gaines had 197 yards receiving and Tello nearly 300 yards passing in the first two quarters alone, but the second half was a different story as the defenses dominated.

Stony Point double-teamed Gaines every play and dropped eight into coverage after the break.

“We had to stop (Gaines),” Chessher said. “He single-handedly killed us in the first half. He’s a dynamite player, and (Tello) is very good as well.”

Adan Gallardo’s 31-yard field goal midway through the fourth gave the Tigers a 30-20 lead.

Most of Bowie’s offensive success the second half came on a 62-yard scoring drive that ended with Tello dumping off a short pass to Camacho, who jaunted untouched across the goal line.

The Bulldogs would never see the ball again, however, as Hausenfluck and Leonard made several key plays to get down to the Bowie 2, where Stony Point ran out the clock.

“I’m real proud of our kids to come out, hang in there in a tight football game, and to be able to kneel the ball at the end was exciting,” Chessher said.

Both teams start district play next week, with Bowie (0-1) opening up with a key game against Austin High in District 26-6A, where essentially six teams battle for two playoff spots after Westlake and Lake Travis.

“We have a lot of improvement to make, that’s obvious,” Ables said. “But I like our kids, and I know they’re going to respond and get better.”

Stony Point (1-0) gets the advantage of taking momentum into its district opener, and with an electric player like Leonard that people now know about, the Tigers are possibly better than some preseason predictions expected.

“Taking a win into district play is really big,” Leonard said. “A lot of people coming into the season didn’t expect much out of us, but now that we have some respect on our name, we’re just going to keep bringing it every week.”

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