Kyle Poynter and Jesse Setters finally brought life to the Houston Tigers’ stagnate offense and hope for a strong finish to the season.
Poynter rushed for a pair of touchdowns and twice hooked up with Setters on long scoring passes as the Tigers had maybe their best performance of the season in a 47-27 loss Friday night to state-ranked Thayer.
Houston coach Chris Edwards said he isn’t a fan of moral victories. But considering his team was playing for the first time since one of their classmates was killed in a car accident, he was pleased.
“With everything the kids have dealt with emotionally throughout the week, I’m just proud that they came out and competed,” said Edwards, who a week earlier delivered the news to his team after a loss to Mountain Grove that A’ndrea White had died. “They were able to have fun. I know we didn’t win the game and that’s always your goal, but they were able to play a game. At that point in their lives, that was the most important thing.”
Poynter, a three-sport standout, flashed his athleticism in just his second start at quarterback. He had a nifty scramble for a 18-yard score and despite throwing two interceptions and having several passes dropped, he threw for 215 yards.
“You could see a definite difference in the way he played from last week,” Edwards said. “It’s not an easy position to learn when you don’t have a lot of time. He’s done a nice job of picking things up.”
Poynter developed a long-distance connection with Setters, who is playing varsity football for the first time as a senior. Setters hauled in seven catches for 174 yards, including touchdown receptions of 34 and 62 yards.
Both of Setters’ touchdowns were fourth-down catches.
“He showed some awareness on the field and what he can do when he gets the ball in his hands,” Edwards said.
Even with its improved offense, Houston (0-5) had trouble keeping up with the Bobcats.
Tailback Joshua Huckabee rushed for 284 yards and three touchdowns. He also caught a 28-yard score. Ethan Leisenring added 157 yards and a pair of scores as Thayer compiled 465 rushing yards.
The Tigers, who were without starting tailback Justin Schmidt (concussion), managed just 46 yards on 18 carries. Poynter led the way with 11 rushes for 65 yards.
Houston trailed 14-0 in the first quarter when Poynter rolled out of the pocket and across the field for an 18-yard score.
Huckabee’s 10-yard score in the second quarter and 38-yard scamper in the third put the Bobcats ahead 28-6 and began a back-and-forth finish.
After Poynter scored on a 1-yard keeper, Leisenring took a handoff 44 yards for a score two plays later. The Tigers answered with a 34-yard pass from Poynter to Setters to complete a 10-play drive.
Leisenring had a 6-yard run, and quarterback Jared Foley had a 1-yard plunge to make it 47-21.
Setters added a highlight-reel catch to complete the game when he went up between defenders and hauled in a long pass, then sprinted the rest of the way to the end zone for a 62-yard score.
“The kids played well. They came out and competed for four quarters,” Edwards said. “Hopefully we can build on the positive things we did and get in the win column pretty soon.”
THAYER 47, HOUSTON 27
Thayer 14 7 14 12 – 47
Houston 6 0 15 6 – 27
THA – Huckabee 10 run (Leisenring kick).
THA – Huckabee 28 pass from Foley (Leisenring kick).
HOU – Poyner 18 run (kick failed).
THA – Huckabee 10 run (Leisenring kick).
THA – Huckabee 38 run (Leisenring kick).
HOU – Poynter 1 run (Setters pass from Poynter).
THA – Leisenring 44 run (Leisenring kick).
HOU – Setters 34 pass from Poynter (Case kick).
THA – Leisenring 6 run (kick failed).
THA – Foley 1 run (kick failed).
HOU – Setters 62 pass from Poynter (kick failed).
First downs 23 10
Total yards 546 261
Rushes-yards 59-465 18-46
Passing 82 215
Punt returns 1-12 0-0
Kickoff returns 4-27 6-79
Comp-att-int 4-9-0 13-43-2
Sacked-yards lost 2-16 0-0
Punts 2-32.5 4-30.3
Fumbles-lost 4-2 1-1
Penalties-yards 12-105 5-33
RUSHING – Thayer, Huckabee 27-284, Leisenring 17-157, Cabrales 4-24, Risner 1-6, Foley 10-(minus 6). Houston, Poynter 11-65, Case 7-(minus 19).
PASSING – Thayer, Foley 4-9-0 82. Houston, Poynter 13-43-2 215.
RECEIVING – Thayer, Huckabee 3-48, Martin 1-34. Houston, Setters 7-174, Wallace 3-19, Miller 2-12, Hunter 1-10.