By Floyd Ingram
The Toppers showed flashes of greatness but couldn’t overcome a big first quarter by the Eupora Eagles at homecoming Friday night.
Eupora (5-0) scored all 23 of its points in the first quarter and then held on to defeat Houston 23-12. Houston (0-5) begins conference play this week as it takes on the Caledonia Confederates at Topper Field Friday night.
“We start a new season on Monday,” Houston coach Williams Cook, told his players after Friday’s game. “Yes, we wanted our record to be different.
“But that is in the past and we need to look forward to district play,” said Cook. “The real season begins Monday and each of you needs to decide what you are going to do.”
Cook pointed out defense did not allow Eupora to score after the first quarter.
“We have got to play four quarters of football,” said Cook. “We came out after the half and played a very physical ballgame on defense. We have got to find a way to generate points on offense.”
Eupora started with a bang as they threw a deep pass on their first play from scrimmage to cover 62 yards and score.
Eagle quarterback Trey Pittman found Tarvis Robinson on a simple post route and dropped the football in his arms. Robinson ran untouched into the end zone and the point after kick by Justin Lewis was good for a 7 point lead with just 17-second off the clock.
Houston came to play and scored their first points on an eight-play, 57-yard drive that saw fullback Damian Fields roll straight ahead for an 11-yard score. The PAT failed and Houston trailed, 7-6.
Eupora bounced back with a good return to set up business at Houston’s 40-yard line. The Eagles used a combination of rushing and passing to cover 60-yards and Pittman tossed a 22-yard pass into the corner of the end zone to receiver Rusty Johnson. The two-point conversion was good and Eupora held a 15-6 lead with 2:49 left in the first quarter.
Eupora’s cornerback Jalan Embry grabbed his second interception and the Eagles set up shop at the Houston 27. Running back Lamontae Sally capped a four play drive crashing over the goal line from six yards out.
The Eagles again decided on the two-point conversion and carried the score to 23-6 with 10-second left in the first frame.
Houston put together several sustained drives in the game, but lost the ball once again to an interception and a fumble.
The Hilltoppers did not quit and scored their final TD on a 88-yard, 14-play drive with 7:13 left in the game. Fields ran behind strong blocking to the left to score from one yard out. The two-point conversion failed.
“We didn’t play with a lot of emotion,” said Eupora coach Junior Graham. “We hopped on them early and that was our plan. It wasn’t all we wanted but we are 5-0 and are glad to get out of here with a win.”
Houston’s Fields, a junior, ended the game with 102 yards on 17 carries. Senior tailback J.J. Jones rushed six times for 23-yards.
Topper Denver McQuary caught five passes for 33 yards. Junior quarterback Garrison Howell hooked up with sophomore receive Parker Wes for a beautiful pass that covered 51-yards.
The Goons had a good night with linebacker Nathan Smith notching five solo tackles and two assists. Junior defensive lineman Avery Seals grabbed four solo stops and had seven assists. Jones and Grady Nabors has five assists each.
Jaquis Thorton grabbed an interception for Houston and Chapman Boyer recovered a fumble.
“We did somethings well,” said Cook. “We’ve just got to play four-quarters of good football.”
Caledonia is 2-4 on the season and has lost its last three games including a 49-42 game against Ackerman Friday night. Ackerman beat Houston 12-8.
The Confederates have a strong passing game with quarterback Ben Marchbanks picking between senior receivers Jonathan Comers and Josh Betts.
More than 70 photos of Friday’s homecoming queens, football game with Eupora and the Topper band can be viewed and purchased by clicking the BUY PHOTOS button at the top of this page.