Dripping Springs Tigers quarterback Tanner Prewit learned Friday when opportunity knocks, answer.
After twice missing Tiger wide receiver Ty Kaatz on a route late in the fourth frame, Prewit was determined not to make the same mistake again.
Several plays later, Prewit made good on that promise, connecting with Kaatz on a go-ahead 41-yard touchdown pass that catapulted the Tigers past the New Braunfels Canyon Cougars (2-1) in a come-from-behind 42-41 slugfest.
“We never lost hope on the sideline,” Prewit said. “Everyone kept positive effort. We knew it was going to be a grind we just powered through it.”
Dripping Springs (2-1) earned its win by rallying from a 13-point deficit in the final four minutes of the contest. At the center of that comeback was Prewit, who went 14 of 29 for 246 yards and a trio of passing touchdowns.
But it was the effectiveness of the Tiger defense that kept the team’s comeback hopes afloat. Dripping Springs’ defense kept Canyon’s power-run offense scoreless in the final 14 minutes of the game, including a critical fourth down stop with 4:34 left in the fourth quarter.
Tiger head coach Galen Zimmerman said stressing tackling fundamentals was necessary to stop Canyon’s three-headed ground attack consisting of running backs Seth Leeper-Haney, Nathan Culbreath, and quarterback Zavier Perez. Leeper-Haney finished with a game-high 181 yards rushing and one touchdown. Perez rushed for 96 yards and a touchdown, while also going 4 of 9 for 148 yards and two passing touchdowns.
Dripping Springs also had to contend with a beefy Canyon offensive line, which had a size advantage over the Tigers.
Execution in the clutch across the board provided the jump-start the Tigers needed to surpass Canyon.
“I’m excited at how we continue to fight, no matter what, and how we continue to play,” Zimmerman said. “That was tonight. It was going to take a great effort. Luckily we stayed together and we finished.”
Early on, Dripping Springs and Canyon went toe-to-toe, trading scores in the first half. Dripping Springs led Canyon 14-13 at intermission, due to a failed two-point conversion by Canyon late in the second quarter.
Dripping Springs, however, began to fray in the third frame. Tiger miscues allowed Canyon to score 15 unanswered points to start the second half. The Cougars held a 41-28 lead entering the fourth quarter.
The Tigers responded in-kind, scoring 14 unanswered points to close the contest. Zimmerman said use of a faster tempo proved problematic for Canyon’s defense. Kaatz said team leadership played a role in getting the team back on track.
“We started to fall apart a little bit, but we had a few leaders step up and rally the team,” Kaatz said.
One of those leaders was Prewit, who Zimmerman said has shown leadership qualities due to his competitive nature.
“That’s what you want from the guy who’s getting the ball every play,” Zimmerman said. “He’s going to deliver when needed.”
As district play begins Friday, Prewit believes the team’s ability to overcome adversity in the clutch will be a key attribute.
“You’re going to hit bumps and adversity is going to hit,” Prewit said. “It’s whether or not you can overcome it.”
Kaatz led the Tigers with 126 receiving yards on seven catches and finished with two touchdowns. Dripping Springs running back Jake Cox led the team with 146 yards rushing and two scores.
Dripping Springs opens district play Friday against Austin Travis. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Burger Stadium.