Homecoming began with a 43-yard pass on Houston’s first play from scrimmage. But the ball was stripped from the receiver, recovered by Ava and things quickly went downhill.
The 2013 celebration –– titled “Roll out the red carpet –– wasn’t a memorable one for the Tigers. They committed five turnovers and had their worst offensive production of the season in a 48-8 loss Friday to the Bears.
“I think this was the first game we were actually outplayed,” HHS coach Billy O’Neil said.
The Tigers’ rejuvenated offense was completely stymied. Houston managed just 109 rushing yards –– about one-third the season average of 301 –– and a season-worst seven first downs.
Ava (3-3, 2-2 South Central Association) shut down the HHS double wing with a 7-1 defense that plugged every gap on the line.
O’Neil said his team saw the same defensive look and had success when they faced Ava in the preseason jamboree. But in the regular season the Tigers struggled to gain yards and didn’t score until senior Nathaniel Alkire scooted into the end zone with 3 minutes, 3 seconds left in the game.
“There are weaknesses in their game plan,” O’Neil said. “All we had to do was execute, and we did not do it.”
Alkire led the Tigers with 14 carries for 84 yards and his third rushing touchdown of the season. Trevor Merckling had a two-point conversion run.
Houston (1-5, 1-3 SCA) learned Tuesday it will likely be without quarterback Devin Coulter for the remainder of the season. A MRI revealed Coulter has a torn Achilles tendon.
It was a sloppy first quarter for both teams as they combined for five lost fumbles and an interception.
After both sides lost fumbles, Ava started the scoring with a 58-yard pass from Cody Huff to John Luebbering at the 7:06 mark of the first quarter.
One play after Houston’s second lost fumble –– this time on the 14-yard line as the Tigers marched toward the end zone –– Kane Thompson raced 91 yards for a touchdown.
The Tigers lost another fumble on their next possession and threw an interception the next drive.
“We just kill ourselves with turnovers,” O’Neil said. “Those are morale killers.”
Huff had a one-yard rushing score in the second quarter, and Thompson scored from four yards away to make it 28-0 at the half.
Eleven different Ava players carried the ball as the Bears gained 305 yards on the ground. Thompson led the way with five carries for 153 yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns.
Huff was 4-of-4 passing for 159 yards and touchdown throws of 58 and 54 yards.
Trailing 41-0, the Tigers got their first points after forcing one of four Ava fumbles. Houston took possession on the 22-yard line and three plays later, Alkire scored from 10 yards away.
Ava immediately answered as Chance Boyd took the ensuring kickoff 80 yards for a score.
It was that type of homecoming night for the Tigers.
“We had a huge crowd, and great support, O’Neil said, “and we didn’t take advantage of it.”
AVA 48, HOUSTON 8
Ava 13 15 7 13 –– 48
Houston 0 0 0 8 –– 8
AVA –– Luebbering 58 pass from Huff (Vinson kick), 7:06.
AVA –– Thompson 91 run (run failed), 3:10.
AVA –– Huff 1 run (Thompson run), 3:39.
AVA –– Thompson 4 run (Vinson kick), 0:58.
AVA –– Thompson 54 pass from Huff (Vinson kick), 10:10.
AVA –– Vinson 6 run (kick failed), 10:16.
HOU –– Alkire 10 run (Merckling run), 3:03.
AVA –– Boyd 80 kickoff return (Vinson kick), 2:49.
First downs 11 7
Total yards 464 182
Rushes-yards 33-305 37-109
Passing 159 73
Punt returns 4 0
Kickoff returns 103 40
Comp-att-int 4-4-0 3-9-2
Sacked-yards lost 0-0 4-26
Punts 1-40.0 4-36.0
Fumbles-lost 4-4 4-3
Penalties-yards 6-60 1-5
RUSHING –– Ava, Thompson 5-153, Bishop 4-37, Vinson 4-35, Huff 4-18, Willis 4-17, Smith 3-13, Akers 1-12, Darlington 2-9, Boyd 3-7, Davis 2-4, Maggard 1-0. Houston, Alkire 14-84, Merckling 8-32, Smith 2-16, Hale 3-3, Coulter 10-(minus 26).
PASSING –– Ava, Huff 4-4-0 159. Houston, Coulter 3-9-2 73.
RECEIVING –– Ava, Thompson 2-94, Luebbering 1-58, Willis 1-7. Houston, Alkire 3-73.
Week 6 scores
Ava 48, Houston 8
Thayer 58, Cabool 27
Willow Springs 24, Salem 20
Liberty 57, Mountain Grove 34
Week 7 games
Houston at Willow Springs
Mountain Grove at Salem
Liberty at Cabool
Thayer at Ava