WACO -- The Big Sandy Wildcats gave the Shiner Comanches all they could handle and more, but came up just short of upsetting the top-ranked team in the state here Saturday night at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco.
With just 25 seconds remaining in the game, Chris Baer bowled his way just over the goal line to give Shiner its first lead of the game and allow the Comanches to escape with a 21-17 victory.
Shiner will take its perfect 15-0 record to face Stratford in Wichita Falls next Saturday at 6 p.m. Big Sandy finishes with an 11-4 mark.
I'm disappointed, said Big Sandy head coach Scott Callaway. But at the same time I'm very proud of our guys for the way they played tonight. We asked our guys to play hard for 48 minutes and they gave it their all, we just ran out of time.
I feel like another quarter would have allowed us to win this ballgame."
The game had remained tied for more than two quarters when Brandon McCleveland pounced on a muffed punt at the Shiner 7-yard line. Three short running plays followed and Jerry Tennison then nailed a 22-yard field goal to give Big Sandy the 17-14 advantage with 7:20 left in the contest.
After a Shiner punt, the Wildcats were forced to punt and the Comanches set up shop on their own seven. A 46-yard pass halfback pass from Baer to Nick Evans was followed by a pair of first down runs by Baer. Baer was then forced out after a hard hit inside the five, but he later re-entered to score the decisive touchdown.
"They have a good team and just made the plays in the end, Callaway said.
Baer finished with a game-high 117 yards on 20 carries.
McCleveland gained 78 tough yards on 26 attempts to lead Big Sandy.
The fireworks started early after McCleveland forced a Shiner fumble on the opening kickoff and Josh Hilton was there to jump on it at the Comanche 25. Two running plays were stuffed to set up a third-and-ten play when junior quarterback Vincent Montgomery found a leaping Deroderick Strickland for a 30-yard scoring strike. Tennison tacked on the extra point as Big Sandy took the 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
A quick punt by Shiner allowed Big Sandy to take over on its own 32 and McCleveland promptly picked up a first down. But a botched handoff ensued and Shiner recovered midfield.
It took the Comanche offense jut two plays to scored when Trey Curtis found Chase O'Connor for a 42-yard catch-and-run. The extra point sailed wide right as the Wildcats were left clinging to a one point advantage.
Curtis Marsh returned the following kickoff 45 yards to give the Big Sandy offense possession on the Shiner 45. On just the second play, Strickland score his second touchdown on a 43-yard reverse down the left sideline. Another Tennison PAT gave Big Sandy a 14-6 lead with 4:57 left in the opening stanza.
But the lead was short-lived as Evans returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards to paydirt. Curtis tossed a two-point completion to Baer as the game was suddenly tied at 14 with 4:42 left in the first quarter.
Both defenses then took over with impressive performances into the fourth quarter. The Wildcat defense allowed just 126 yards rushing on 42 attempts while collecting three fumble recoveries and one interception.
"A lot of people didn't expect us to be here, Callaway stated. I really appreciate this outstanding coaching staff, the great group of kids, and all the community support we've had this year."
GAME STATISTICS: Shiner Big Sandy First Downs 11 8 Yards Rushing 42-143 44-129 Yards Passing 126 55 Passing 4-11-1 3-5-1 Return Yards 133 79 Punts 4-33.3 8-30.6 Fumbles-Lost 6-3 3-2 Penalties 3-15 6-40 INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS: RUSHING - Shiner, Chris Baer 21-121, Trey Curtis 11-21, Kenzley Wright 5-10, Ryan Kloesel 1-1, Team 4-(-10). Big Sandy, Brandon McCleveland 24-74, Deroderick Strickland 4-33, Vincent Montgomery 7-9, Curtis Marsh 6-7, Braylon Johnson 2-5, Jerry Tennison 1-1. PASSING - Shiner, Curtis 3-9-1-80, Baer 1-2-0-46. Big Sandy, Montgomery 2-4-1-25, Strickland 1-1-0-30. RECEIVING - Shiner, Chase O'Connor 2-64, Nick Evans 1-46, Bucky Boehm 1-16. Big Sandy, Zach Massingill 1-30, Strickland 1-25. SCORING SUMMARY: 1 2 3 4 F Shiner 14 0 0 7 -- 21 Big Sandy 14 0 0 3 -- 17 SCORING DETAILS: First Quarter BS - Deroderick Strickland 30 pass from Vincent Montgomery (Jerry Tennison kick), 10:14 S - Chase O'Connor 42 pass from Trey Curtis (kick failed), 5:58 BS - Strickland 43 run (Tennison kick), 4:57 S - Nick Evans 88 kickoff return (Chris Baer pass from Curtis), 4:42 Second Quarter none Third Quarter none Fourth Quarter BS - Tennison 22 field goal, 7:20 S - Baer 2 run (Scott Shimek kick), :25.2