MOUNTAIN GROVE – The Houston Tigers were roughed up – physically and on the scoreboard – in their first road game of the season.
Three players were knocked out with injuries, and the Tigers never got going offensively in a 45-0 loss Friday night to perennial conference powerhouse Mountain Grove.
Houston was held to a season-low 104 yards and managed just five first downs as the Tigers fell to 0-4. But with the mercy clock running in the second half, the team’s attention was focused on its injured players.
Starting tailback Justin Schmidt sat out the second half and quarterback Kyle Poynter came to the sidelines early in the third quarter. Both “had their bells rung,” according to Houston coach Chris Edwards.
The most serious injury was to freshman Drake Bell, who was strapped to a stretcher and taken to the hospital after suffering a concussion.
“It was a struggle offensively. We couldn’t move the ball,” Edwards said. “When you have those injuries, it makes it obviously even more difficult.”
The Panthers, who lost to Liberty the previous week, got back on the winning track in a big way. Second-string tailback Chris Matthews rushed for 210 yards and four scores. Eight different players carried the ball as the Panthers rushed for 359 yards.
Poynter started at quarterback for Kyle Jones, who broke his collarbone the previous week. Poynter was 6-of-15 passing for 30 yards and threw two interceptions. He had a team-high 22 yards rushing on four carries.
Edwards said Poynter will be back under center Friday night when the Tigers (0-4, 0-3 SCA) host Thayer for homecoming.
“I thought he did some good things and obviously made some mistakes,” Edwards said. “But that’s going to be expected. He had been at the position all of three days. We certainly weren’t expecting him to go out and be perfect. I think there’s a lot we can build on.”
Houston will be without Schmidt and Bell. Edwards said Schmidt, who took a similar hard hit during the summer, will sit out as a precaution. Bell will be out several games.
“Nobody actually saw the hit, and he doesn’t remember it,” Edwards said of Bell. “It will be a couple weeks at least until he can play.”
Matthews found paydirt from 1 yard out late in the first quarter on the Panthers’ second possession to make it 7-0.
Garrett Eaton had a 4-yard rushing score following a Poynter interception 30 seconds into Panthers’ 24-point second quarter. Matthews had a 12-yard rushing score, and Christian Matthews connected on a 38-yard field goal.
Mountain Grove (3-1, 2-1 SCA) had 31 points and 14 first downs until the Tigers moved the chains for the first time on Poynter’s 25-yard scamper just over one minute before halftime.
Matthews had touchdown runs of 61 and 1 yard in the third quarter to cap the Panthers’ scoring.
Edwards said the Tigers continue to make small mistakes, including lining up incorrectly on defense, that lead to big plays.
“Those are things we have to get fixed,” Edwards said. “It’s frustrating to the coaches, and I know the kids are frustrated, too. It’s something we all have to work together to get past.”
MTN. GROVE 45, HOUSTON 0
Houston 0 0 0 0 – 0
Mtn. Grove 7 24 14 0 – 45
MG – Chris Matthews 1 run (Christian Matthews kick), 3:31.
MG – Eaton 4 run (Christian Matthews kick), 11:30.
MG – Christian Matthews 38 FG, 7:33.
MG – Chris Matthews 12 run (Christian Matthews kick), 4:19.
MG – Dobson 10 pass from Courtney (Christian Matthews kick), 1:11.
MG – Chris Matthews 61 run (Christian Matthews kick), 8:50.
MG – Chris Matthews 1 run (Christian Matthews kick), 4:10.
First downs 5 18
Total yards 104 407
Rushes-yards 18-38 51-359
Passing 66 58
Punt returns 1-0 0-0
Kickoff returns 6-95 1-0
Comp-att-int 8-22-3 7-11-0
Sacked-yards lost 0-0 0-0
Punts 6-35.2 0-0
Fumbles-lost 2-2 4-3
Penalties-yards 1-5 4-38
RUSHING – Houston, Poynter 4-22, Kelley 2-6, Schmidt 6-5, Case 4-3, Miller 2-2. Mountain Grove, Chris Matthews 25-210, Collins 8-57, Eaton 5-36, Pridemore 2-18, Satterfield 5-17, Courtney 2-6, Anderson 1-4, Dennis 3-1.
PASSING – Houston, Miller 2-6-0 36, Poynter 6-15-2 30, Kelley 0-1-1 0. Mountain Grove, Courtney 7-11-0 58.
RECEIVING – Houston, Wallace 3-42, Setters 4-15, Miller 1-9. Mountain Grove, Shannon 1-31, Dobson 3-21, Parsons 1-8, Eaton 1-1, Chris Matthews 1-(minus 3).