Mountain Grove running back Ricky Healy is chased by Houston's Randy Barker as he carries the ball in the second half. Healy had three scores in the Panthers' 53-7 victory.

Mountain Grove didn’t have to go far for most of its 53 points.

The Panthers took advantage of five turnovers and many short fields as they cruised past the Houston football team 53-7 Friday night.

Houston had three interceptions — including one that was returned for a score — and two lost fumbles. There was also a partially blocked punt and another that netted two yards as the Tigers (0-3, 0-3 South Central Association) struggled to keep the ball out of their half of the field.

Mountain Grove (2-1, 2-0 SCA) had several short drives — 46, 22, 31 and 27 yards on four of five first-half scores — to take a 40-0 halftime advantage.

“It seemed like when it wasn’t one thing, it was another,” HHS coach David Williams said.

Mountain Grove didn’t have monster offensvie numbers to match its 53 points. The Panthers ran for 194 yards and quarterback Shaun Anderson threw for 141.

But the Panthers capitalized on Houston’s mistakes while holding the Tigers’ offense in check.

Houston managed 78 rushing yards on 26 carries and had one first down until midway through the third quarter. Quarterback Weston Walker completed 5 of his 14 pass attempts for 61 yards and was picked off three times.

“We have no consistency on offense, and it’s basically because we’re having trouble running the ball,” Williams said.

Williams did his best to get the ground game going. He moved featured back Kaden Miller to the offensive line and inserted Austin Foster into the lineup at tailback.

Foster had five carries for 10 yards, and the Tigers averaged 3.0 yards per carry.

“It didn’t seem to really help, but I don’t know because we didn’t block very well,” Williams said of the adjustment. “We didn’t give our running backs a chance. We’ll talk again this week, but the jury is still out.”

Houston’s lone points were provided on special teams.

After Anderson connected with Austin Dobson for an 11-yard score to make it 21-0 late in the first quarter, the Tigers’ Drake Bell took the ensuing kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown.

Bell broke a tackle shortly after fielding the kick, darted for the left sideline and got a late block from Tyler Smith to spring him.

“That’s what happens when you get some blocks,” Williams said. “Drake is capable of being a good returner.

“Those are the kind of things you like to see. Hopefully that can carry over to other parts of the game.”

Box score

Houston   7  0  0  0   –    7 
Mtn. Grove   20  20  7  6   –    40

First Quarter

MG — RHealy 1 run (Simmler kick), 5:06.

MG — RHealy 6 run (Simmler kick), 1:35.

MG — ADobson 12 pass from Anderson (kick failed), 0:57.

HOU — Bell 89 kick return (Preheim kick), 0:42.

Second Quarter

MG — Otwell 56 pass from Anderson (kick failed), 11:51.

MG — Emery 25 interception return (Simmler kick), 10:44.

MG — Ary 2 run (Simmler kick), 6:36.

Third Quarter

MG — RHealy 1 run (Simmler kick), 8:57.

Fourth Quarter

MG — Creed 3 run (Simmler kick), 10:41.

   HOU   MG 
First downs    7    14 
Total yards  139  335
Rushes-yards  26-78 37-194
Passing  61  141
Punt returns  0-0  0-0
Kickoff returns  9-208  2-42
Comp-att-int  5-14-3  8-10-0
Sacked-yards lost   1-3  0-0
Punts 3-11.7 1-24.0
Fumbles-lost 2-2 1-0
Penalties-yards  2-20  3-25

——

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — Houston, WWalker 12-37, TySmith 1-28, TaSmith 5-10, Wilkins 2-6, Foster 5-1, Bell 1-(minus-4). Mountain Grove, Ary 6-58, RHealy 9-33, Anderson 4-26, Lada 5-22, Dixson 1-18, Thompson 2-11, Bolin 1-10, Collins 4-8, Pridemore 1-6, Creed 1-3, Mitchell 1-2, Cain 2-(minus-3).

PASSING — Houston, WWalker 5-14-3 61. Mountain Grove, Anderson 8-9-0 141, Ary 0-1-0 0.

RECEIVING — Houston, Wilkins 2-26, Kelley 1-23, Stigall 1-8, Bell 1-4. Mountain Grove, Otwell 2-71, ADobson 3-32, JDobson 1-24, Dage 1-9, Lada 1-5.

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