The Hilltoppers played well but a hungry East Webster team snatched a 21-13 victory in the last minute of Friday night’s game at Topper Field.
Houston (0-3) played solid defense and the offense shined in spots, but a fourth-quarter drive by East Webster (3-0) allowed them to score with 44-seconds left on the clock to take the lead 14-13. The Wolverines then intercepted a Houston pass on the Hilltoppers last chance to take the score to 21-13.
“We have got to finish better,” said Houston coach William Cook. “We took some steps in the right direction but we still aren’t where we need to be.”
Cook said this loss hurt, especially in such a hard-fought game.
“It was a very physical game and it took a lot out of both sides,” said Cook. “The defense did their job, but our offense needs to finish plays and keep the chains moving.”
Cook said the Hilltoppers played a good first half and were ready for Friday’s game against their neighbors down Highway 15.
East Webster coach Doug Wilson said the Wolverines suffered the death of classmate Bubba Raines this week and he was worried about his team coming to Houston.
“We didn’t play with a lot of emotion early and I think it took our kids three quarters to get focused,” said Wilson. “Houston wore us out on defense and it was a very physical game.
“I was anxious to get here,” said Wilson. “And I was anxious to leave. We go to Caledonia next week and have to keep this drive alive.”
East Webster is ranked second in the Daily Journal Class 2A/1A poll.
Houston’s offense took the opening kickoff and drove 61-yards in 15 plays before the drive stalled at the East Webster 26 on a fourth-and-15 gamble.
And then the Hilltopper defense took the field and five plays later the Wolverines punted.
Houston then put together a sustained drive and used 11-plays to push 77-yards with junior quarterback Garrison Howell sneaking over from the 1-yard line.
The TD was set up by 25-yard rolling pass from Howell to J.J. Jones and runs of 9, 8, 6 and 5-yards by junior fullback Damien Fields.
Jones point-after was good and the Hilltoppers led 7-0 with 11:15 to go in the second quarter.
Houston saw Lady Luck shine on them as sophomore offensive lineman J.J. Brownlee picked up a kicked punt that bounced off the head of an East Webster defender and he raced 20-yards – untouched – for the score.
The Hilltoppers seemed to have found their groove and carried a 13-0 lead into the locker room.
East Webster got on the scoreboard midway in the third quarter with sophomore quarterback Jack Wilson passing and handing the ball to running back Deangelo Liggins.
The Wolverines scored when Liggins crashed over the goal-line from 5-yards out. The PAT by kicker Tyler Cosby was good and East Webster was back in the ballgame.
Houston ran four plays on the next series and rolled into the fourth quarter on an eight-play drive that stalled at the East Webster 47.
With the clock winding down, the Wolverines put together their last drive with Wilson finding wide receiver McKinley Hollenhead in the corner of the endzone for an 11-yard TD pass. Cosby’s kick was good and East Webster had the lead 14-13.
Houston didn’t appear beat with only 44-seconds on the clock and passed with a vengeance. The final score saw Wolverine Tyler Doss grab the interception and run 16-yards for the score.
Houston travels to Ackerman to face Choctaw County (3-1). The Chargers are led by a pair of quarterbacks and three running backs with over 200-yards each.
The Chargers beat Union (3-1), 51-6 Friday night in Union.