Ty Scheets’ big night pushed the Houston football team to the brink of its first win in two seasons. And the Tigers won several statistical categories.
But like the previous 14 games, the Tigers came up short on the scoreboard.
St. James gained 256 yards via the ground and used a late defensive stand to spoil Houston’s homecoming Friday night with a 26-21 victory.
The Tigers (0-4) had more total yards and first downs than St. James and racked up 318 passing yards, highlighted by Scheets’ 12 catches for 175 yards and two scores. It didn’t add up to a win, though.
Houston has lost 14 consecutive regular-season games and 15 overall. The Tigers’ last victory was a Nov. 14, 2005, playoff win against Mt. Vernon.
“We had our chances,” said Tigers coach Chris Edwards. “When we’re presented with opportunites, we have to capitalize on them.”
Trailing 20-13 midway through the fourth quarter, Houston marched all the way to the 18-yard line with the opportunity to tie the game. But a Justin Schmidt run gained zero yards and quarterback David Weybright, who completed 25 of his 46 passes and had three touchdowns, misfired on three consecutive passes to turn the ball over on downs.
St. James (1-3) then marched down the field to score a critical touchdown to make it 26-13 – plenty of cushion to hold onto the lead when Weybright hit Scheets with a 4-yard touchdown with 49 seconds left in the game.
It was the first victory of the season for St. James, which had managed just 13 points in its first three games.
“We knew it would be back and forth and kids fighting to get that first win,” Edwards said. “Somebody had to win, somebody had to lose.”
Houston was forced to take to the air as its running game struggled. The Tigers had just 40 rushing yards on 24 attempts, and Schmidt lost two fumbles in the first half.
But the passing game was clicking on all cylinders.
Weybright threw for 197 of his 316 yards in the second half, including a 33-yard touchdown strike down the middle of the field to tight end David Foster at the end of the third quarter. Weybright also threw a costly interception that was returned 38 yards for a score on the second play of the third quarter.
Edwards said he isn’t accustomed to throwing the ball that many times in a game. But he’s willing to go with what works.
“The most I’d ever thrown the ball in a game before was 23 or 26 times,” Edwards said. “It takes a little change in how I approach the game. At the same time, as a coach you have to adjust what you do to what your kids’ strengths are.”
St. James struck first when Nathan Deluca took a handoff up the middle and raced 74 yards untouched to make it 7-0.
Houston took advantage of a fumbled punt – St. James’ second of the game – when Scheets pulled in a high-arching pass over a defender in the front of the end zone. The extra point was blocked, leaving the Tigers behind 7-6.
St. James immediately answered, returning the ensuing kickoff 42 yards and scoring three plays later for a 14-6 halftime advantage.
Chase Ford picked off Weybright’s first pass of the second half and raced 38 yards untouched to put St. James ahead 20-6.
The Tigers pulled within a score on Foster’s first touchdown of the season and thanks to a 38-yard flea-flicker from Weybright to Scheets, moved within striking distance to take the lead.
After Schmidt’s run was stuffed, Weybright overthrew an open receiver in the end zone. The Tigers lined up in the same formation and ran the play again, but the pass was tipped away from Dalton Wilson by a St. James defender.
Weybright’s fourth-down pass also fell incomplete.
“We just have to keep working to improve at this point,” Edwards said, “and try to get better every week.”