It was a hot night and difficult game for the Pontotoc Warriors, as they could not find a way to overcome Houston’s rushing attack and fell to the Hilltoppers 29-12 Friday in Pontotoc. Both teams suffered through the heat as temperature at kickoff was 93-degrees.
But the Hilltoppers started hot and didn’t cool off until it was over.
“First game of the year, it was hot getting used to this weather and we were cramping a lot out there” said Houston football coach Williams Cook. “We got out of here we survived.
“Pontotoc is a great team, they came after us hard after we jumped up on them,” Cook added.
Houston took the opening kickoff and marched down the field and scored on Urriah Shepard’s 1-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter. After exchanging punts, the first quarter ended with the Hilltoppers on top, 6-0.
The Warriors had a punt blocked to open the second quarter that resulted in a Houston touchdown.
Tay Bowden broke through the line and blocked the punt and Shepard recovered it for the score.
Houston got the extra point, and the Hilltoppers were in charge, 13-0.
Pontotoc answered with their own scoring drive of 72-yards.
Junior running back DeMarcus Lavender carried the ball three times for 24 yards. Warrior quarterback Jacob Carter scrambled for 23-yards and passed for 27 including a seven-yard touchdown pass to Mario Murphy that made the score 13-6.
Houston drove down the field on their next possession behind the running of Townsend, but Pontotoc stopped the drive when McKinely Windham intercepted a Taylor Baskins pass near the endzone. Pontotoc could not move the ball and on a bizarre play a safety was called on a punt that appeared to have been blocked but was not recovered. The ball left the endzone and went out of bounds at the two yard line. However, the officials saw it different, a safety was called, and the Warriors were forced to kick off to Houston. Pontotoc now trailed 15-6.
The Hilltoppers drove down the field again and scored with 5:37 left in the second quarter from 15 yards out on a quarterback keeper by Haskins.
Townsend had 93-yards rushing at the end of the first half and Houston trotted into the lockerroom with a 22-6 halftime lead.
Pontotoc opened the second half strong with their second scoring drive of the night. Lavender and Carter again led the charge with Lavender running for 23-yards and Carter passing for 32-yards including his second touchdown pass of the night. Junior wide receiver Jalen Harper snagged Carter’s 22 yard pass making the score, 22-12.
The celebration was short lived as Houston took the next possession and scored on a 63-yards touchdown run by Townsend. Houston extended their lead to 29-12 with that score.
The heat took it’s toll on both sides of the field as the remainder of the game saw two turnovers, seven penalties and five incomplete passes passes.
“We are lucky to get out of here with a win the way we were cramping up,” said Cook.
Houston plays their first home game Friday against Calhoun City.
Pontotoc will visit Saltillo next week and look to correct mistakes learned from the Houston loss. “About everything that could go wrong went wrong” said Warriors coach Scott Brown. “(The) bad news is that it was a team effort. It’s not like we can point to one thing it was like an overall team effort. The good news is, it’s things that can be corrected. We just have to focus on getting better at every position.”