SNYDER — Keenon Ward was every bit as good as advertised on Friday.
Ward accounted for 411 yards — 217 rushing and 194 passing — and four touchdowns as Snyder over-whelmed Sweetwater 49-20 in a District 5-3A contest.
Snyder is now 2-1 in district (7-1 overall) and tied with Wylie for first place with two games remaining while Sweetwater fell to 4-5 overall, 1-2 in district.
Despite the loss, the Mustangs can still make the playoffs with a win Friday in their season finale against Brownwoood in Sweetwater. Brownwood (5-3, 1-1) was idle this week.
And despite giving up 519 yards, Sweetwater put up a fight at Snyder and had just one fewer first down. But the Tigers were relentless, scoring on their first play from scrimmage and never looking back en route to their seventh straight win.
Taylor Jones’ 6-yard run cut Snyder’s lead to 13-7 early in the second quarter, but Snyder added 22 more points before halftime to go into the dressing room with a 35-7 advantage. In less than five minutes of game time, the Tigers got scoring runs from Zach Harris and Ward, plus a safety and a 26-yard touchdown pass from Ward to T.J. Villa.
Sweetwater tried to make a game of it on Jones’ 3-yard scoring run that narrowed it to 35-13, but an 80-yard Ward run for a touchdown less than a minute later and a 3-yard Brandon Davis TD run put a realistic end to the Mustangs’ hopes.
Marquees Jenkins’ 5-yard TD run and Tadeo Canon-Masjoan’s extra point in the fourth quarter provided a little solace for Sweetwater, which lost junior running back Ryan Linebaugh — its top rusher this season — to an injury in the first half but still had a respectable 212 yards rushing. Fullback Sam Nemir took individual rushing honors with 74 yards on 11 carries, while Jones — the team’s quarterback and No. 2 rusher this season — finished with 54 yards while scoring twice.
But it wasn’t enough for Sweetwater to stay with Ward and company.
“You have to score every possession you’ve got the ball just to stay with them, and it creates such a stress level,” said Mustang coach Craig Slaughter. “We knew that (Ward) would probably get some big plays. We hoped it wouldn’t be that many, but he definitely made some huge plays.”
Ward also scored on runs of 73 and 4 yards.
“I thought our kids played as hard as we could play,” said Slaughter, whose team currently has several starters out due to injury. According to Slaughter, those players’ availability for this Friday’s season finale will be deter-mined later this week.
“The playoffs start early for us,” Slaughter said, re-ferring to the urgency of a win over Brownwood. “We’ve got to be ready.”