Stephenson defeated Miller Grove 55-20 at Hallford Stadium on Oct. 14.
The win gives Stephenson (5-2, 3-0) possession of the No. 1 seed with two region games left to play in the regular season.
Stephenson controlled the line of scrimmage on offense and defense and had several big plays on special teams — including when Trent Fields Jr. returned the opening kickoff to Miller Grove’s two-yard line.
Three plays later, Devin Ingram ran for his first touchdown of the night when he punched in a two-yard rush.
Stephenson ran for two more touchdowns in the first half, helping the Stephenson Jaguars to a 28-0 lead at halftime. The second touchdown came from running back Cheik Keita, and Ingram was back in the end zone for the third.
Senior left tackle Bryce Favors and junior left guard O’Shea Stroman anchor Stephenson’s offensive line with three sophomores in center Marcus Andrews, right guard Brandon Perkins and right tackle Matthew Rowland. The Jaguars’ line keyed a 189-yard rushing and three touchdown performance on 21 carries from Ingram.
The Jaguars also found contributions in the run game from wide receiver Denver Jones and running backs Elijah Edwards and Seg’jier Lane.
Stephenson head coach Marcus Jelks said he and his offensive assistants made it a point to “spread the ball around more,” due to Stephenson being loaded with state champion track athletes.
“We take pride in having a fast team. A lot of those guys ran track, some won and competed for a state championship,” said Jelks.
Stephenson pushed its lead to 28-0 in the final seconds of the first half when Marte Barton connected with Jones for an 11-yard catch over the middle.
The Jaguars didn’t miss a step in the second half, with Ingram taking the opening play from scrimmage for a 52-yard touchdown run.
Miller Grove (4-4, 1-2) scored touchdowns on a Keshawn Weathers kickoff return after Ingram’s touchdown, and a 30-yard run by Ta’Jon Corbitt to cut the lead to 35-14 with 8:10 left in the third quarter. Sydina Muhammad hit both extra points for the Miller Grove Wolverines; Etsomfa Elavero made all of Stephenson’s.
Miller Grove gained momentum after its first two touchdowns, but Stephenson’s defense shut it down. On Miller Grove’s next possession, Stephenson linebacker Kaleb Bristow intercepted a pass and returned it for a 65-yard touchdown for a 42-14 lead.
“Those defensive plays were big. We’ve been looking for turnovers and defensive scores all season,” added Jelks.
Miller Grove had another touchdown on a reception by Weathers from Chancellor Allen to trim the lead to 42-20, but an interception from Stephenson’s William Martin Jr., a rushing touchdown from Edwards, and Fields catching a touchdown from Barton kept the came into control for Stephenson.
Oct. 14’s game marked the third consecutive season where Stephenson started 3-0 in region play and the fifth time the Jaguars completed the feat since 2017.
However, the Jaguars only have one playoff win in the same time. Jelks said to overcome the lack of wins, and to keep Stephenson’s hardnosed running attack alive, the Jaguars must get healthy and stay healthy.
“We definitely have our eyes on that region championship. We just have to get healthy first,” said Jelks. “One more win. If we beat Holy Innocents, we have it.”
In other DeKalb football news, McNair High School completed its winningest season since 2010 when the McNair Mustangs beat Redan 44-41 for win No. 4. DeKalb also saw six teams win games on Oct. 14.
Results from DeKalb teams in action with asterisk marking region games:
Cedar Grove (5-2, 1-0)* 42, Douglass (3-5, 0-1) 0
Druid Hills (3-4) 42, Clarkston (1-6) 0
McNair (4-4, 2-2)* 44, Redan (2-6, 1-3) 41
Holy Innocents (5-3, 2-1) 36, SW DeKalb (2-6, 0-3)* 34
Stephenson (5-2, 3-0) 55, Miller Grove (4-4, 1-2)* 20
On campus games
Marist (5-2)* 43, South Cobb (0-7) 7
Eagles Landing Christian (4-3, 3-0) 28, Columbia (5-3, 2-2)* 25
Notre Dame Academy (3-6) 14, Cross Keys (0-7) 7
St. Pius (3-4, 2-0) 33, Dunwoody (4-3, 0-2)* 6
McDonough (3-4) 48, Stone Mountain (2-4) 18
Callaway (4-3, 3-0)* 57, Towers (0-6-1, 0-3) 0