MOUNTAIN VIEW – When Brad Pounds picked off a pass and hauled in a touchdown in a span of 23 seconds, the Houston Tigers were one half away from a much-needed victory.
But any momentum Houston had slipped away in a hurry.
Mountain View-Liberty scored on its first possession of the third quarter to break a halftime tie, then recovered an onside kick and punched it in the end zone again. The consecutive scores gave the Eagles a comfortable cushion that they rode to a 26-13 district victory Friday night.
“We went into the half with a lot of momentum, we thought,” Houston coach Chris Edwards said.
After coughing up an early 13-0 lead, Liberty gained its advantage back in a big way to start the second half.
Quarterback Luke Yarber capped an 11-play drive with his third touchdown pass to Paris Walkup to make it 19-13. The ensuing kickoff hugged the ground, bounced off a Houston player and into the hands of Liberty. Yarber made the Tigers pay five plays later when he bounced around the left side on a keeper and danced into the end zone from 20 yards out.
Houston never recovered from the quick strikes as the Tigers (0-9, 0-5 SCA) lost the program’s 20th consecutive game and were eliminated from the district title race. Houston will be playing for pride only tonight (Thursday) against rival Cabool, which clinched its first district championship since 1995 with a convincing 42-6 win against Willow Springs.
The Tigers had trouble containing Yarber, who danced his way around defenders for a game-high 110 yards on 17 carries. The total would have been higher without Houston’s three sacks. Yarber also threw for 71 yards and three scores.
Liberty (3-6, 1-4 SCA) got 53 yards from Ethan Taylor and 53 more by Toby Orchard as the Eagles racked up 224 rushing yards. Liberty gained all but one of its 17 first downs on the ground.
“We struggled to stop the run more than anything, which had kind of been our strength the whole year,” Edwards said. “They hit us a little bit. I don’t think it was a lack of aggression on our part, they just made some plays.”
Houston quarterback David Weybright completed 14 of his 22 passes for 137 yards and touchdowns to Pounds and Ty Scheets. He also gained 24 of the Tigers’ 33 rushing yards.
The first of two Weybright interceptions set up Liberty’s first score – a 20-yard strike from Yarber to Walkup late in the first quarter. Yarber hit Walkup again from 30 yards away midway through the second quarter to make it 13-0.
Houston answered on its next possession by covering 66 yards on nine plays. Scheets capped the drive with his team-leading sixth touchdown reception from 16 yards out.
Scheets, who easily leads the team with 48 catches for 645 yards, has a touchdown reception in each of the last three weeks.
“He’s got great size and a big target. You can get him the ball in a number of ways,” Edwards said. “Anytime you have a wide receiver that’s done good things, you’ve also got to give credit to some other people. You have to have some other wide receivers that you can throw to, and your offensive line and running backs have to protect the quarterback.”
With time winding down before the half and Houston facing a seven-point deficit, Pounds gave the Tigers another scoring opportunity when he picked off Yarber near the sideline with 35 seconds left. Two plays and 23 seconds later, Weybright hit Pounds over the middle for a 14-yard score. Kirk Pierce’s extra point made it 13-all.
“That was a heck of an individual effort,” Edwards said of Pounds’ interception. “It was a big play for us that gave us some momentum.”
It didn’t last.
Houston ran just five offensive plays in the third quarter as Liberty pounded out two scoring drives. The Eagles ran the ball on all but two plays as they went ahead 26-13.