WEST LOWNDES – They weren’t perfect but the Houston Hilltopper hit hard and did what they had to do to take a 9-8, pre-season win Friday afternoon.
The Hilltoppers showed they can do a variety of things as they ran, passed and even kicked a field goal to win their two-quarter contest with Bessemer Academy, out of Birmingham, Ala., at a four-team scrimmage at West Lowndes, Aug. 14.
“I’m proud of you guys,” Houston football coach William Cook said after Friday’s game. “You fought to the finish and you did the things you had to do to win the game. That’s good and we need to focus on doing those sames things next Friday night against Pontotoc.”
The Hilltoppers open the season at Pontotoc High School and will have their first home game the following weekend as they host Calhoun City at Topper Field. Both games have a 7 p.m. kickoff.
As expected, the defense is ahead of the offense this early in the season and Houston made Bessemer punt after three downs and a flag. Houston noseguard Johnta Walker dropped Bessemer’s running back for a 7-yard loss on the first play of the game. Walker followed that up on the next play with a quarterback sack.
Houston handed the ball to the big-back Brandon Townsend who rushed for 15-yards on two plays. The next series saw the Hilltoppers spread it around with Townsend and quarterback Taylor Baskin marching to the Bessemer 33. The Hilltoppers rolled the dice but couldn’t make a fourth-and-one.
Houston’s only big mistake came on the next play when Bessemer quarterback P.J. Garrett found a streaking receiver and hurled the ball for a 66-yard TD pass. The two-point conversion was good and Bessemer held an 8-point advantage with .57-seconds to go in the first quarter.
Houston started the second quarter with some excitement of their own, as Townsend ran through a nice hole, stiff-armed the safety and rumbled 38-yards for the score. The hold on the extra point never really happened with holder Urriah Shepard scooping up the snap and not making it to the end zone.
Houston came back midway in the second and drove 47 yards to the Bessemer 5-yard line on solid running by Townsend, Baskin and running back Damian Fields.
The snap was good, Shepard set the ball and field goal kicker Wes Parker booted it between the up-rights with room to spare. The Hilltoppers held a 9-8 lead with under four minutes left to go.
Defense held on the next two possessions and Houston claimed the victory.
“I told them we needed to see good practices this week because what we see in practice is usually what we see on Friday night,” said Cook. “We’ve got some work to do, but it wasn’t a bad game.”
Cook said the game plan was to put a lot of kids in game situations and see how they performed.
“We don’t have a lot of seniors and we need some kids to step-it-up and claim some positions,” said Cook. “But I saw some kids with some fight, we chased the ball and we hit hard.”