OKOLONA – Northeast Mississippi kicked off the 2014 fall football season in Okolona last week with the Houlka Wildcats facing the East Union Urchins in a Thursday night tilt that saw East Union come out on top 21-12.
The Urchins gave Houlka it chance but secured the win on a 10-yard touchdown scamper by Cage West to open the fourth quarter. Houlka had two more opportunities but was unable to change the fate of the game.
East Union led 14-6 with 24-seconds left in the first half. Instead of taking a knew at its own 30, quarterback Lane Plunk threw three incomplete passed. Then a fourth down run left a couple of seconds.
Houlka quarterback Tyreque Reed responded with a 33-yard touchdown pass to Frankie Young and the Wildcats had new life.
“I thought we were going to run out the clock and we didn’t end up getting it done,” said East Union coach Scott Dudley.
The Urchins (1-0) gave Houlka the ball when Taz Davidson recovered a fumble to open the third. The drive ended when Zae Bradley recovered a blocked punt.
East Union scored the first two touchdown on West’s 4-yard run and Zane Wilkenson’s 2-yard catch.
Reed’s 39-yard touchdown run got the Wildcats (0-1) on the board, but two failed runs put them behind the 8-ball.
East Union’s Plunk made all three extra points.
Houlka’s Johnathon Huffman punted from his own end zone to open the fourth. He got it off, but gave East Union the ball at the 35, up two, West scored three plays later.
Reed scored his 39-yard touchdown in the second quarter. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound senior stiff-armed a would-be tackler along the way – and did it again in the fourth quarter.
“I told him I was kind of scared of him to be honest,” East Union QB Plunk said of Houlka’s Reed.
Cramps took a large toll on Houlka, which had to rest Reed more than once in the second half. The heat index at kickoff was 105 and empty mustard packets and water cups littered the Wildcat sideline as athletes looked to replace salt and fluids.
“We had to use our time outs more for rest than we did for actual timeout situation,” said first year Houlka coach Sid Burt.
Houlka running back Wyatt Easterly left the game via ambulance late in the third quarter. Easterly had an obvious injury to his thigh and was expected to be Ok, but might be out for the season.
Houlka takes the week off and will be back at Charles Falkner Field in Okolona for a Friday, Sept. 5 game with Coahoma County.
Coahoma AHS beat O’Bannon 16-12, Friday night.