By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
SALTILLO – For traditionalists, the Saltillo Tigers and the Baldwyn Bearcats lived up to the hype Friday with a great and exciting rivalry contest.
For Obrien Stewart, it was truly double the effort.
The senior two-way player for the Tigers totaled 244 yards rushing, including the game-winning touchdown in the second overtime to help Saltillo to a 34-31 victory.
“This was way too interesting,” said first year Saltillo coach Pat Byrd. “I wish I could have been up in the stands watching this.
“This was two teams competing in a great rivalry. And Obrien Stewart is a good football player, no doubt.”
Stewart’s overtime heroics were set up by the Tigers’ defense, which stuffed a third-down run by the Bearcats for negative yardage. Baldwyn (1-2) had to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Mitchell Winstead for a 31-28 lead in the second extra period.
That left Saltillo (2-1) with a possession in the extra frame, and Stewart wasted no time. The senior darted through the Baldwyn defense for the winning score basically straight up the middle.
“We’re trying to establish something here, and get the kids to believe in themselves,” Byrd said. “Hopefully, a game like this will pay dividends down the road.”
Stewart amassed 140 of his yards in the first half, which saw both teams feeling each other out for most of the first quarter. But on the first play of the second period, Stewart broke the ice with a powerful 22-yard scoring run.
Later in the quarter, Stewart scored on a draw play from 29 yards out for a 14-0 Saltillo lead. Baldwyn did respond before the intermission, with Tyler Estes capping an 83-yard drive with a 6-yard run for a 14-7 margin.
Baldwyn struck quickly coming out of the locker room, as quarterback Reggie Patterson scored on a 9-yard run on the Bearcats’ second play of the third quarter to tie the score.
Saltillo moved ahead again late in the third period on a 10-yard burst by Ahmad Tubbs. Baldwyn responded again with a 35-yard fumble return by Lorenzo Hill with 5 minutes, 32 seconds to play in regulation.
“Both teams were feeling each other out early, then it was a good old-fashioned Baldwyn-Saltillo game,” Baldwyn coach Michael Gray said. “We knew coming in they would come right at us.
“We hung in there, and the kids have nothing to hang their heads about.”
In the first overtime, Saltillo scored first on a 3-yard run by Quad Freeman on a fourth-down play. Baldwyn pulled even in the OT on its first play, a 10-yard pass from Patterson to Seth Swinney.