After losing three straight district games, Big Spring (5-4) looked fired up against Greenwood (6-3) at Memorial Stadium on Friday, but the Steers fell victim to explosive Ranger quarterback Kam Williams' dominant running game and couldn't pull out a win, as Greenwood went away with a 34-20 victory.
The Rangers scored first, but missed an extra point, taking a 6-0 lead over the Steers early in the first quarter. It remained a defensive stalemate until two minutes into the second stanza when Big Spring QB Tobyn Tannehill — who played while dealing with a strained groin — hit Devin Roberson for a 42-yard touchdown reception. Roberson's extra point gave BSHS a one-point advantage.
On the Rangers' next possession, Steer Ty'Ral Menefield intercepted a pass, but a personal foul penalty against the Steers gave the ball back to Greenwood. On the same drive, Tyler Wigington picked off a pass from Williams and fell on the ball at the 41-yard line, but the Steers were unable to manufacture any points and were forced to punt it away.
With a long pass of their own and a two-point conversion, Greenwood took a 14-7 lead on a pass from Williams to Colin Sullivan with 3:40 left to play in the half.
The Steers had a chance to gain some much-needed momentum and even the score in the third quarter.
Tannehill connected with Roberson for 57-yard gain, then Jared Doporto caught one from Tannehill to give the Steers another first down. It looked like Big Spring was mounting a touchdown drive when a bad snap got past Tannehill and a Ranger defender jumped on top of the ball, taking possession at the Steers' 39-yard line.
The Steer defense — who despite a handful of big plays, were solid throughout the evening — stopped the Rangers from scoring on that drive.
Greenwood would capitalize on its next possession, however, as Williams ran in a 10-yard run, then later in the period, picked up 83 yards on the keeper to increase its lead to 28-14.
Big Spring scored in the same quarter when Wigington blocked a punt return and ran 51-yards for a touchdown. Roberson again kicked the extra point.
The game wasn't out of the Steers' reach, until Williams — who rushed for nearly 250 yards — scored on a one-yard run to make it a three possession game. In the fourth quarter.
BSHS senior Joseph Morelion rushed for two yards and scored the final points of the game as time expired, but it was the deficit was too much for the Steers to overcome.
BSHS Head Coach Phillip Ritchey was disappointed after suffering a fourth straight loss, but gave his athletes credit for playing with heart.
“They played hard last night,” Ritchey said. “We came close on some big plays that might have turned things around, but I was pleased with the effort they gave. They played better than some other teams against Greenwood. (Friday) night, it came down to big plays. They made more of them and we missed some.”
The quarterback matchup was a concern for Ritchey, as Tannehill wasn't 100 percent.
“(Tannehill) being hurt didn't help,” Ritchey said. “He still threw the ball well. Our running game is successful because he runs the ball so well, but playing with a strained groin, we knew we would be throwing the ball more. (Williams) is a big kid. We were hoping he wouldn't have a big game, but we anticipated it was possible. He's a three-year starter and he's a big guy. He looked like a grown up (Tannehill), is what I thought.”
On the positive side of things, Big Spring has won five more games than they had at this point last season and still have a chance to upset Monahans on the road Friday in the final game of the year. With the amount of young talent in the Steer squad, the next couple years look promising.
“We have played eight good games. We played well against a senior-heavy team. The future is bright. The younger guys are getting so much experience.”
As for Big Spring's seniors, they played their last game in front of a home town crowd Friday.
“We've got some good seniors,” Ritchey added. They play hard for us and always give us their best effort. That's all you can ask for. Hopefully next week we can send them off with a win.”