MARIONVILLE – The Houston football team was looking forward to a fresh start after last year’s nightmare. But the 2007 season opener did little but stir up memories of 2006.
Layton Metcalf sprinted 49 yards untouched down the right sideline on fourth-ranked Marionville’s first offensive play and the Tigers mustered little offensively as they were shutout 30-0 Friday night.
While the final tally mirrored many of last year’s results – when Houston was shutout four times – the path to the loss was quite different. The Tigers only trailed 14-0 entering the fourth quarter and two missed defensive assignments cost the Tigers a pair of long touchdown runs.
Although he was disappointed in his debut, first-year coach Chris Edwards was pleased with his team’s effort for three quarters. He also believes the mistakes can be corrected.
“Other than just a few breakdowns, we were aggressive and did a pretty good job,” Edwards said. “We broke down and they caught us. A good team is going to do that to you.”
The first breakdown came just 1 minute, 19 seconds into the game. The left side of Houston’s defense was sucked inside on a stunt as Metcalf ran untouched down the right sideline for a quick 7-0 lead. Another mistake on third-and-10 midway through the fourth quarter gave Metcalf a big lane up the middle for a 58-yard touchdown.
“We just did some things wrong and it cost us,” Edwards said. “A couple little mistakes and they capitalized on it.”
Metcalf, who has the dubious distinction of replacing record-setting running back Lee Flood, did his best impression of the prolific tailback. He gained 221 yards on 21 carries – 107 yards coming on two long touchdown runs – and scored three times.
While Marionville (1-0) racked up 318 rushing yards, the Tigers failed to establish a ground game. Houston had just three runs of five or more yards – all by senior Kirk Pierce, who had 36 yards on 13 carries – and finished with 16 yards on 25 attempts.
Houston gained 48 of its 94 total yards on an 11-play first-quarter drive that stalled on the Marionville 8-yard line when the Tigers, who converted two fourth downs, were stopped on fourth-and-4. All but 15 of the yards on the drive were courtesy of quarterback David Weybright, who finished 10-of-20 passing for 78 yards and an interception.
“The passing game and pass protection were decent, but our running game needs a lot of work,” Edwards said. “We have to take a sense of pride in our blocking and it’s not just the linemen. We have got to become a better blocking team all the way around.”
The Comets, coming off consecutive appearances in the Class 1 championship game, led 14-0 when Jake Grubbs connected with Garrison Edgar on a 23-yard halfback pass 1:45 before halftime.
Following a scoreless third quarter, Marionville methodically moved the ball with 12 consecutive running plays that covered 66 yards. Metcalf capped the drive with a 1-yard plunge up the middle.
“I was proud of the kids for three quarters,” Edwards said. “They wore down a little bit because they were on the field too much on defense, but we still have to be able to finish a game.”