Two down, eight to go — that is the official count after Big Spring Head Football Coach Phillip Ritchey's bold, preseason prediction of taking the Steers from an 0-10 team to a 10-0 team in just one season.
Last week, Big Spring throttled Fort Stockton 49-0 in the season opener. The comeback continued on the new turf recently laid at Memorial Stadium on Friday as Big Spring upset Midland Christian — reigning TAPPS 4A state champions — 17-12.
Again, Ritchey was surprised at the fortitude displayed by his team.
“We really didn't know what to expect going in.” Ritchey said. “We know we have a good defense and we know the offense has the potential to be really good. We showed a lot of mental toughness. Physical toughness, too. We have pushed the guys hard to prepare them for these tough situations.”
After the Mustangs intercepted quarterback Tobyn Tannehill — who passed for 158 yards and rushed for 58 — in the end zone on the Steers' opening drive, the squad kept its composure. A 47-yard field goal attempt by Devin Roberson was foiled by a bad snap, as neither team could put together a scoring drive in the first quarter.
The stout Steer defense kept MC on its heels throughout the second quarter of play. Brett Brorman recovered a Mustang fumble and Big Spring capitalized, turning the error into seven points after a time consuming drive by Tannehill and company which was capped by a one-yard run by Michael Oliva (29 carries, 76 yards) to put the Steers on the board. Roberson kicked the extra point and with four minutes left in the half, BSHS led 7-0.
Drawing first blood, Ritchey said, set the tone for what would prove to be a nailbiter of a game.
“(Midland Christian) played really well,” Ritchey said. We were up against an explosive offense and I think we did a good job of containing them. We created turnovers, which I think was the key to the game. It was the most physical our defense has played in a long time.”
Roberson made it a 10-0 affair after kicking a 24-yard field goal in the third quarter.
Big Spring's defense — which held opponents scoreless through the first seven stanzas of play on the season — allowed its first touchdown of the year after MC connected for a 5-yard touchdown pass. The point after was no good and the Mustangs cut the Steers' lead to four points.
Another long drive by commanded by Tannehill, Oliva ran for 9-yards and the second Big Spring touchdown to make it 17-6 with the Steers on top.
Answering back were the Mustangs with a 2-yard run, but they failed to convert, leaving a five-point gap in the score that MC couldn't overcome.
Keeping the Mustangs and its capable offense in check was part of Ritchey's plan for the evening.
“That was one of our goals,” Ritchey added. “To not give up a big touchdown play. We wanted to force them to play another down — maybe we could get a turnover — that's what happened a couple of times and that kept us in the game."
Dual threat receiver and safety Roberson — who caught seven passes for 107 yards — was sidelined with a potential ankle or lower leg injury in the fourth quarter after he was hit by a Mustang defender during the extra point attempt.
“(Roberson) will be x-rayed (Saturday) morning,” Ritchey said. “It's just a precautionary measure. We are hoping for the best.”
The Steers will try to continue their monumental turnaround Friday on the road against San Angelo Lakeview. Game time is slated for 7:30 p.m.