SNYDER — After scoring a touchdown on its opening possession — a 31-yard run from sophomore quarterback Tobyn Tannehill — it appeared Big Spring was eager to redeem last week's District 4-3A opening loss against a Abilene Wylie with a convincing victory over the Snyder Tigers on the road.
Instead, costly Steer turnovers and a handful of momentum-changing plays resulted in Big Spring coming away with their second loss of the season and a 0-2 conference record as Snyder outlasted the Steers 31-21.
The upset puts added pressure on BSHS Head Coach Phillip Ritchey, who guided his team to a 5-0 record prior to the start of district action.
“We were definitely expecting to win,” Ritchey said. “You can't make that many crucial mistakes — giving them short fields, a pick-six — and get a win against most anybody. When you give them the ball that many times at the 20, it's a dangerous situation. There were too many critical mistakes that were game-changers. It was too much to overcome.”
Up 7-0 to begin the second quarter, Tannehill attempted a short pass that was picked off by Snyder's Zach Harris and turned into an 80-yard touchdown run coupled with a valid point after kick to tie the game.
With the Steers defense on the field deep in their own territory, what looked like a bit of a backwards lateral pass was attempted by Snyder.
The pitch was caught and fumbled, with a Steer recovery, but the officials called it an incomplete pass, extending the Tigers possession. D'Vincent Allison then scored on a 5-yard run to put the Tigers up 14-7 after a valid extra point.
On their next offensive drive BSHS running back Michael Oliva began pounding his way down the field after three straight rushes for 16 yards and a first down. With send down and eight yards to go, a pass interference call benefited the Steers and on first and goal, Oliva scored on a two-yard run and after another good PAT kick from Devin Roberson, Big Spring had evened it up at 14.
“We moved the ball well,” Ritchey said. “Our defense played well at times. The kids played hard. It was just one of those nights it seemed everything went against us.”
With under a minute left in the half, the Tigers scored on a six-yard run to give them a 21-14 advantage headed into halftime.
The start of the second half didn't bode well for the Steers. The kick return was fumbled with the Tigers recovering the ball on their own 13. A nine-yard run by Harris capped Snyder's drive and increased its lead to 28-14.
A big defensive stop by the Tigers foiled a drive by Tannehill and company despite a pair of completed passes to Tate Kennedy — including one for a first down — and 15-yard personal foul penalty against Snyder. Big Spring turned the ball over on downs after a failed quarterback sneak play.
The Steers next offensive possession would prove to be more effective. Oliva and Tannehill each gained seven yards in back-to-back rushing plays before a 23-yard pass completion to Roberson put the Steers in a position to score.
Oliva ran in a two-yard touchdown and Roberson's kick was good, as the Steers made it a one-possession game with a score of 28-21.
A key defensive stop by the Steers began the final period of action, but the Steers offense was non-existent.
“We still had opportunities, even with all the mistakes,” Ritchey explained. “We felt like we could win even in the fourth quarter. We didn't take advantage of some situations and it didn't happen, so we move on.”
When asked if the loss to Wylie last week — the squads first all season — may have taken the wind out of the Steers' sails, Ritchey said it's possible, but not likely.
“It may have effected them,” Ritchey said. “But Wylie is a good team and I thought that first quarter was the best we had played all year.
It's my responsibility to get those guys emotionally ready to play. I feel like we kind of beat ourselves. I don't think we were having a problem moving the ball. We just had to execute better. Snyder's got a good program. It was a rivalry at one time and it was at their house.”
Snyder picked off Tannehill once again, but this time failed to generate any points off the interception.
A 24-yard field goal by Snyder kicker Chance Reneau put the game on ice, as Big Spring was unable to score for the remainder of the affair.
Disappointed, but not out of it yet, Ritchey is setting his sights on a three-game win streak against remaining district foes Sweetwater, Greenwood and Monahans.
“We certainly control our own destiny,” Ritchey added. “We are going to focus on us and make sure we go out there and take care of business.”
The next challenge will come at Memorial Stadium, as the Steers host the 3-4 Sweetwater Mustangs.
“We got a big one this week,” Ritchey said. “We need a lot of support. It's a home game, I encourage everyone to play a part in this and come out to support our guys.”