SNYDER — In sports, as in life, you have to take advantage of opportunities for success whenever they come your way.
In Friday’s District 4-3A opener, Sweetwater reached Snyder’s red zone on its first two possessions of the game — and came away with nothing to show for it in a scoreless first quarter.
The Mustangs also forced Snyder to punt on its first series, but the Tigers took the lead with a 16-play, 93-yard scoring drive that began at the end of the first period and resulted in a 1-yard touchdown run by D’Vincent Allison.
It was still only 7-0 at the end of the half — the first time Sweetwater has been held scoreless in any half this season — but the Mustangs never caught up.
After a wild third quarter that saw the teams combine for five touchdowns and 34 points, Snyder put the game away with two TDs in the fourth quarter to claim a decisive 41-14 victory.
Jay Lomas of Sweetwater (2-4 overall) returned the opening kickoff 39 yards to Snyder’s 33-yard line, and from there the Mustangs got down to the 8. But on fourth-and-1, quarterback Kaegan Jeffrey was stopped for no gain on a run.
After forcing a punt, the Mustangs were on the move again, driving from their 29 to Snyder’s 16 in five plays — until Jeffrey was inter-cepted by Snyder’s Felix Martinez to end the threat.
Those two failed chances seemed to sap Sweetwater, which didn’t make another first down until the next-to-the-last play of the half. But the Mustangs trailed only 7-0 at that point, as the defense twice denied Snyder a chance to increase its lead after the Tigers got inside Sweetwater’s 30 on consecutive possessions.
But Snyder made it a two-possession game by scoring on a 63-yard drive to begin the third quarter. This time the TD was scored by quar-terback Skillet Rinehart on a 45-yard run that increased the lead to 14-0.
That seemed to finally revitalize Sweetwater’s of-fense, though a 34-yard kickoff return by Marquees Jenkins gave the Mustangs excellent starting position at Snyder’s 46.
A pair of runs by Isaiah McGee got it to the 22, and from there Jeffrey threw to Dylan Bennett for the touchdown to cut the lead back to seven, 14-7.
The TD pass was the 22nd of the year for Jeffrey, but the first TD reception of the season for Bennett.
The contest then turned into a video game as both teams traded touchdowns in quick succession.
After the kickoff, Snyder scored immediately on a 55-yard run by Allison, who finished with 269 yards on 36 carries for the night.
However, Sweetwater was again within one score after a five-play drive capped by a 14-yard TD run by Jenkins to make it 21-14.
Snyder came right back with a 56-yard, eight-play drive that ended with a 14-yard Rinehart scoring run for a 27-14 lead by the end of the quarter.
The Tigers then began to pull away after a second interception of a Jeffrey pass just seven seconds into the fourth quarer. Jonathan Garcia returned it to Sweetwater’s 27 and two plays later, Allison scored from the 5 to make it 33-14.
Sweetwater dodged a bul-let by recovering a Snyder fumble at the Mustang 29, only to turn it right back over with a fumble follow-ing a pass completion. The Tigers made them pay as Allison scored his fourth touchdown on a 22-yard run with 2:36 to play.
Sweetwater coach Shane Mobley admitted that his team made too many mis-takes to win against Snyder, which has the same record as the Mustangs but has won two straight after an 0-4 start — with the four losses coming by a total of nine points.
“We’ve just got to go back and watch film and learn from our mistakes,” he said. “Fatigue set in a little bit in the second half, and they got the momemtum which is hard to beat.
“There was no panic when we fell behind by two scores. The kids have been there before. But we knew in the fourth quarter we had to make something happen, and the turnovers finally burst our bubble.
“It hurts right now. In fact, it stings a whole lot. But we can’t fret over it. We’ve got to line up and play the next one.”