It didn't come easy, but No. 2 ranked Abilene Wylie earned a 4-3A District-opening victory over Big Spring on Friday at Memorial Stadium.
After falling behind 21-0 in the first quarter, the Steers rallied back outscoring the Bulldogs 24-21 for the remainder of the game, but the early deficit was too much to overcome and Wylie handed BSHS its first loss of the season, outscoring the Steers 42-24.
Big Spring's opening play from the line of scrimmage turned into a defensive touchdown for the Bulldogs when safety Hayden Lewis picked off Tobyn Tannehill — who passed for 147 yards and rushed for 125 — and ran 25 yards to the end zone. Wylie couldn't convert for two points, but with only 17 seconds off the clock, the Bulldogs were up 6-0.
It looked like it may have been a collapse on the part of the Big Spring defense when Wylie scored a touchdown on each of its next two possessions.
With only one period in the books, the Steers found themselves in unfamiliar territory — down by 21 points — the most BSHS had trailed all season.
The Steers came out swinging in the second quarter.
Tannehill found receiver Tate Kennedy and connected for a 14-yard score to put Big Spring on the board. On its next offensive possession, it was Devin Roberson who made a gem of a catch, scoring on a 29-yard pass from Tannehill.
BSHS Head Coach Phillip Ritchey cited Roberson as playing a vital role in keeping the Steers within striking distance of one the state's best teams.
“I think he is one of the most versatile players in this part of the state,” Ritchey said. “I think he had one of the best games he has played here in Big Spring and made some of the best catches we've ever seen.”
Roberson also contributed by kicking three extra points and with only nine seconds remaining in the second stanza, Roberson booted a 33-yard field goal to make it a 28-17 game headed into the half.
Wylie and Big Spring each scored a touchdown in the third.
First it was the Bulldogs when Lewis struck again — this time offensively — with a three-yard run.
Answering was BSHS running back Michael Oliva with a seven-yard run to keep the Steers within reach.
Just over four minutes into the fourth quarter, Wylie added seven more points when Lewis ran once again for a two-yard touchdown which sealed the game for the Bulldogs.
It may have ended the Steers surprising win streak, but Ritchey was pleased with the way his squad handled the heavily favored Bulldogs.
“After the first quarter, it was a well-played game,” Ritchey said. “It's hard to spot a team 21 points and come back. I am proud of the way they competed. You can't ask for any more of the kids. To get back in the game like we did — that doesn't happen to Wylie.”
On defense, the Steers may have been outmatched, but Ritchey thought it was a good showing.
“We played as well as we could,” Ritchey said. 'I have been watching a lot of college games the past two years and physically (Wylie) looked like some of the offensive lines I have seen on college teams. Their running back was fast and the quarterback threw the ball well.”
Ritchey is ready to learn from the loss and get back on the winning track Friday against Snyder on the road.
“We have a four-game season,' Ritchey added. “We have to win three-out-of-four games to get in the playoffs.”