HOUSTON – It may have been a good thing the scoreboard was not working as Houston lost their home opener to Calhoun City Friday night.
The Hilltoppers seemed snake-bit as two fumbles on solid drives deep into Calhoun City territory and several penalties hurt Houston’s chances in a 40-0 loss to the visiting Wildcats.
Houston (1-1) would turn the ball over to Calhoun City (2-0) six times – five fumbles and an interception – as the Wildcats came out strong and scored 20-points in the first quarter.
“Calhoun City has a very good team and they kicked our tails,” said Houston coach William Cook. “It just seemed like everything that could go wrong did.”
The Hilltoppers were coming off a 29-12 victory over South Pontotoc the previous week.
“The turnover helped us but our guys blocked and tackled and we played well,” said Calhoun City coach Perry Liles. “This is a healthy rivalry and our guys really had the desire tonight.”
Calhoun City is the No. 1 ranked team in the Daily Journal 2A/1A poll.
Calhoun City spread the ball around as five different players scored for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats drove down the field on their first possession and junior running back Breiton Sykes broke left to race 36-yards for the first score.
Houston sophomore Jalon Gates blocked the extra point with 7:40 to go in the first quarter.
Calhoun City’s Jesse Nabors, a junior, scored on runs of seven and two yards. Seniors Pat Gardner and Chakel Gates also got into the end zone as did Wildcat freshman JoJo Gray.
“We played a lot of guys and they all did what we asked them to do,” said Liles. “We tried a lot of things tonight and our guys responded well.”
Houston running back Branden Townsend ran hard but never was able to get going as a tough Wildcat defense held him to 39-yards on 13 plays.
Topper quarterback Taylor Baskins rushed for 13-yards on six plays and had Houston’s longest run from scrimmage of 15 yards in the second quarter. Baskins, a sophomore, was sacked twice and threw one interception.
Freshman quarterback Urriah Sheperd was called on in the second half and scrambled for 19-yards on three plays.
The Hilltopper defense was repeatedly drawn off side by Calhoun City.
But it was fumbles that hurt Houston most. The Hilltoppers fumbled at their own 22 in the first quarter and Calhoun City scored on the next play. The Hilltoppers also fumbled at the Calhoun City 3-yard-line late in the game to douse a scoring opportunity.
Houston appeared to be in shape and was not hindered by cramps this game.
“I really thought we were ready to play, but apparently that wasn’t the case,” said Cook. “We have got some things to fix this week.
“We play Okolona here and it is always a good game,” Cook added.
Okolona (2-0) downed Houlka (0-2) 54-13, Friday night.