ODESSA — Within the storied confines of Ratliff Stadium, Big Spring (9-3) engaged in its second shootout with Andrews (5-7) this season, but this time, it was the Steers who did most of the shooting.
Despite the less than desirable field conditions and freezing weather, BSHS routed the rival Mustangs 56-7, bringing its two-game postseason point total to 117 — and counting.
Junior running back Hunter Hill scored four times, bringing his touchdown total to nine against AHS in two outings.
The Steer defense set the tone by forcing a three-and-out by Andrews on its first possession, then the offense struck quickly when Tobyn Tannehill completed an 11-yard pass to Tate Kennedy for a touchdown.
Scoring early to establish dominance was one goal going into the game and Ritchey said his squad executed the strategy perfectly on both sides of the ball.
“That was the plan,” he explained. “We wanted to get up on them early and not let up. We let up a little the first time we played (Andrews) and they came back. Our defense was really the difference in the game. They were the MVPs in my opinion. They gave us a better chance to win. It’s easier when you’re not trading touchdowns. They took Andrews’ running game away.”
Devin Roberson’s PAT kick was blocked, but the Steers forced the Mustangs to punt on their next drive. Hunter Hill took one home from 49 yards out and a pass from Tannehill to Roberson was good for a two-point conversion to extend Big Spring’s lead to 14-0.
Andrews answered back to make a one-score game, but any hope the Mustangs had of a rally was short-lived.
Tannehill tacked on two toucdown runs and the explosive Hill scored his second of four TDs in the second stanza, giving BSHS a 35-7 lead at the intermission.
“What can you say about (Hill)?”, Ritchey asked rhetorically. “He’s a game-breaker. He can score any time he touched the ball. He did score every time he touched the ball. He’s quick and he’s powerful, but he’s also a good inside runner. He has good vision. He saw the holes last night and that was it. He’s a good kid, too. He’s a good football player on both offense and defense. And special teams. He makes some big plays on special teams.”
Punting it away after the Steers’ opening drive of the second half stalled, AHS was called for roughing the punter, giving Big Spring an automatic first down to keep the possession alive. After down the clock to the tune of nearly eight minutes, the 99-yard drive culminated in another Tannehill TD run from 18 yards out.
What little wind was left in Andrews’ sails was gone.
Hill went on to score another touchdown in the third frame and add the only points in the final quarter.
It’s been four long years since the Steers have made it to the playoffs and now they are back in the regional playoff round. Excitement among the players and staff is palpable, but also realistic. The next opponent — defending 3A state champion Stephenville (11-1) — promises to be a major upgrade in competition.
But Big Spring has proven it can trade punches with just about anyone and seem to be peaking after dispatching two postseason foes seemingly effortlessly.
“We have to go in and play a good game,” Ritchey said. “If we play well, we have a chance. We can’t go in and have a sub-par performance against a team like Stephenville and expect to win. Obviously, the deeper you go, the stiffer the competition gets.”
With the Thanksgiving holiday next week, many games will be played next Saturday, including Big Spring and Stephenville, which is set for 2 p.m. at Abilene Wylie’s Bulldog Stadium.
Passing: Tobyn Tannehill, 5-9-0, 59 yards.
Rushing: Tobyn Tannehill, 17-130: Hunter Hill, 4-134; Preston Alexander, 19-89; Fabian Garcia, 4-24; Devin Roberson, 1-18; Dylan Marquez, 1-4.
Receiving: Tate Kennedy, 3-31; Garrett Wigington, 1-22; Devin Roberson, 1-8.
Interceptions: Hunter Hill, 1-25; Shaheim Menefield, 1-8.
Other area scores:
• Ira (12-0) defeated Garden City (10-2), 40-38 in area round.
• Grady (7-4) vs. Happy (9-2), postponed until Monday due to weather.