The Cleburne Yellow Jackets overcame a sluggish second half to open District 5-5A Division II play with a 41-29 win Friday night over Waco University at Waco ISD Stadium.
Cleburne (3-0, 1-0) held the lead for most of the game, but University (2-2, 0-2) made things interesting in the second half.
After the Jackets turned the ball over on downs near midfield midway through the third quarter, University scored on a 19-yard pass from Jacob Bryant to Mike Lambert to make it a 34-29 game.
University got the ball right back after holding Cleburne to a three-and-out, and the Trojans moved the ball downfield with a chance to take their first lead. But on fourth-and-5, Cleburne’s Nico Keramidis was shot out of a canon and sacked Bryant for an eight-yard loss and a turnover on downs.
Five plays later, the Jackets scored on a 52-yard pass from Gunner Hammond to Isaak Cunningham to regain a two-score lead at 41-29.
Hammond had a highly efficient outing as he completed 16-of-22 passes for 363 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
In addition to the 52-yarder to Cunningham, Hammond also tossed a 62-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ethan Steck on Cleburne’s first possession to go along with touchdown passes of 35 and 58 yards to Cleo Chandler.
Cleburne’s bye week didn’t seem to affect Chandler much. After rushing for 261 yards in the Jackets’ week 2 win over Chisholm Trail, Chandler accounted for 270 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns. Chandler rushed for 148 yards on 25 carries and added three receptions for 122 yards.
In defeat, University running back Jeremiah Stroupe had 197 rushing yards and one touchdown.
Bryant completed 20-of-37 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns but Cleburne’s defense recorded three interceptions — with Anthony Chanta, Juan Romero and Cunnigham each snagging picks.
Cleburne is scheduled to host Joshua for homecoming in week 5 while Waco University has a bye week.