ABILENE- Typically when a playoff game goes into overtime, you tend to lean towards the team who has experience for the win. However, conventional wisdom was bucked on Thursday night at Shotwell Stadium and the main reason was the play of Snyder junior Keenon Ward. Ward's big plays and poise led the Snyder Tigers (9-2) a team who missed the playoffs last year past the 3A Division I runner ups Graham Steers (8-3) 28-21.
Ward totaled 247 total yards to lead the Snyder offense and sophomore FB Brandon Davis scored three short touchdown runs including the overtime winner to help Snyder get past a scrappy Graham bunch. Versatile Snyder back Xavier Malone had six receptions for 111 yards to lead the receiving corps.
The defenses of both teams dominated early and after one quarter it was scoreless. However, early in the second quarter Snyder jumped out to a 7-0 lead as Ward hit Anthony Taylor for a 19 yard scoring strike. Three possessions later Graham would strike to tie the game up at seven as junior QB Layne Bynum executed a perfect play action fake and hit Dylan Fulford for a 31 yard touchdown pass making it 7-7.
Snyder would grab the lead right before halftime as Davis scored from a yard out for a 14-7 advantage for SHS at the half. Graham would open the second half with a very impressive drive taking seven minutes off the clock and getting it done with the ground game as Fulford took some snaps from behind center the Steers were able to make some hay against the middle of the Snyder defense. Graham benefitted from a key third and ten pass interference in the end zone and two plays later Fulford scored from a yard out to make it 14-14.
Snyder would take the lead back on an odd series of downs, where the key play was a fifteen yard penalty on the Graham band. Davis would cash in scoring his second touchdown of the game from three yards out to put the Tigers back in charge 21-14.
The see-saw affair would continue with Graham putting together an impressive drive behind Fulford who was still in the game at QB. On 3rd and 17 from the twenty he found Josh Galloway in the corner of the end zone on a twenty yard strike to tie the game at 21 with little more than seven minutes remaining. Snyder appeared to be poised to drive down and take the lead back late in the game as on 3rd and 17 Ward found Malone for a 33 yard gain to put the Tigers in scoring position. However, Ward made his only true mistake of the game as he was picked off by Galloway on an ill advised pass across the field.
Graham would pick up one first down before being stopped with less than a minute left, the Steers would punt the football back to Snyder and the Tigers were unable to score in regulation. SHS did come close executing a perfect hook and ladder play that got the ball down to the ten yard line.
On the second play of overtime, Ward would strike again breaking off an eighteen yard run inside the Graham five, setting up Davis' third scoring run of the game to give SHS a 28-21 advantage. The Snyder defense would hold on the next series as Graham would go four and out.
Snyder will take on the winner of tonight's game between Kennedale and Decatur in the Class 3A Region I Division II Area Playoffs at a site and date to be determined.
Click below for audio from Snyder QB Kennon Ward!