By Senior Writer, Adam Ogburn / Twitter: @aogburn00
The first-round showdown between Big Spring and Riverside last Friday was an absolute roller coaster of a game. Big Spring came out of the gates flying and led 20-7 by the end of the first quarter. However, Riverside slowly reeled the Steers back in and a 16-yard touchdown pass from its quarterback Angel Munoz to receiver Aaron Aguilar in the corner of the end zone with just under seven minutes to go in the game knotted the score at 20 and eventually sent the game to overtime. That is where things got wild.
Riverside struck first in overtime on what appeared to be a field goal, but a roughing the kicker penalty gave the Rangers a second chance. Munoz took full advantage as he threw across his body on a bootleg and found Adrian Estrada for a two-yard touchdown completion. However, the extra point was blocked, providing Big Spring with the opportunity to win with a touchdown and extra point.
With the ball at the Riverside 31, Big Spring quarterback Gabriel Baeza cut across the field on a scramble drill, dodging Riverside defenders before turning up the sideline and breaking two more Riverside tackles to find the end zone. All that Big Spring needed was the extra point to win, but this time it was Riverside which came up with a huge block and kept the game alive, tied at 26.
The second overtime belonged to the defenses as each offense threw an interception on consecutive plays. In triple overtime, after Riverside failed to score on its possession, Big Spring had yet another chance to win it. This time it took full advantage.
Baeza found his receiver Pablito Dehoyos on a bootleg for a two-yard touchdown to seal a memorable 32-26 victory for Big Spring.
“The team impressed me by the way that we were able to handle adversity and continue to fight. The game had many momentum shifts, but we were able to bounce back enough to win the football game,”
Big Spring head coach Cannon McWilliams said.
“The big thing that we have preached all year is that we just need to play the next play, no matter what happens. We definitely exemplified that in the playoff win. It was a great win for our kids, staff and community.”
Big Spring was led by Baeza, who finished the night with 156 yards passing, 205 yards rushing, and four total touchdowns.
“The thing that impresses me (weekly) about Gabriel’s performance is how he never seems to get rattled. He’s always looking forward and never dwells on a negative play,”
“Riverside was giving us a look defensively that opened up some things on the ground for our quarterback and [running backs]. Our offensive line did a great job opening holes and we were able to take advantage of the looks that they were giving us.”
After such a wild game, Big Spring will need Baeza to come up again big this week when they travel to Abilene to square off against 9-2 Springtown for a spot in the third round this Friday.