MOUNTAIN VIEW –– A 66-point loss proved to be a positive for the Houston football team.

Facing the top-ranked team in Class 2 was just enough to push the Tigers up one spot in the final district standings. Regardless of the outcome –– a 66-0 victory Friday for Mountain View-Liberty –– HHS advanced from eighth to seventh based on the Eagles’ undefeated record.

By leapfrogging Pleasant Hope in Class 2 District 3, the Tigers will travel to second-seeded Strafford on Thursday and avoid a rematch with Liberty.

“I think we match up better with Strafford,” HHS coach Billy O’Neil said. “I’d even rather play Mountain Grove than Liberty because of the speed. We are better suited to play a power team.”

Other first-round district matchups are: (8) Pleasant Hope at (1) Liberty; (6) Cuba at (3) Mountain Grove; and (5) Fair Grove at (4) Willow Springs.

The district standings are calculated by a formula that takes into account a team’s record, point differential, opponents’ records and strength of schedule. Pleasant Hope and Houston had identical 1-8 records during the regular season, and Jason West of the Missouri State High School Activities Association said Pleasant Hope finished higher than HHS in three of the four categories. The advantage went to the Tigers, who had a 18.46 to 18.45 edge in the final standings, by facing Salem, St. James and Ava during the season. Pleasant Hope didn’t play any Class 3 teams.

Playing Mountain Grove and Liberty –– the Nos. 4 and 1 teams in Class 2 –– helped the Tigers move up the standings in the final two weeks. The Tigers’ first eight opponents had 18 combined wins before adding the 15 of Mountain Grove and Liberty for a total record of 33-39. The head-to-head meetings between the teams don’t count. Pleasant Hope’s opponents had a combined 45-26 record.

HHS received 30 bonus points for playing three Class 3 teams. Those points gave the Tigers a one-hundredth of a point edge over Pleasant Hope in the final standings.

Moving up means Houston won’t face Liberty quarterback Jaelon Acklin and his talented teammates again in 2013.

The Eagles (9-0) stormed ahead 46-0 at the half and cruised past Houston to clinch the SCA championship with a 7-0 mark. They racked up 502 total yards and held the Tigers scoreless for the first time this season.

“They’re the most athletic team we’ve faced all year,” O’Neil said. “Their state ranking is legit.”

Acklin was 9-of-15 passing for 163 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for 94 yards and a score. His younger brother, Jansen, had 122 receiving yards and two touchdowns and 117 rushing yards on two carries –– both scores.

Houston had a season-low 96 yards rushing on 38 attempts. Trevor Merckling and Tanner Smith led the Tigers with 35 yards apiece.

Quarterback Nathan Poynter was 5-of-14 passing for 51 yards and four interceptions.

Box score

LIBERTY 66, HOUSTON 0

Houston 0 0 0 0 –– 0

Liberty 26 20 13 7 –– 66

First Quarter

LIB –– JaeAcklin 15 run (Denton kick), 9:33.

LIB –– Porter 1 run (kick failed), 8:27.

LIB –– Denton 1 pass from JaeAcklin (kick failed), 7:02.

LIB –– Denton 5 pass from JaeAcklin (Denton kick), 1:23.

Second Quarter

LIB –– Porter 55 kick (Denton kick), 7:18.

LIB –– JanAcklin 26 pass from JaeAcklin (kick failed), 2:53.

LIB –– JanAcklin 18 pass from JaeAcklin (Denton kick), 0:53.

Third Quarter

LIB –– JanAcklin 38 run (kick failed), 9:49.

LIB –– JanAcklin 79 run (Denton kick), 4:12.

Fourth Quarter

LIB –– Bush 60 interception return (Denton kick), 2:40.

––––––

HOU LIB

First downs 8 8

Total yards 157 502

Rushes-yards 38-96 20-325

Passing 51 177

Punt returns 0 15

Kickoff returns 48 0

Comp-att-int 5-14-4 10-16-1

Sacked-yards lost 0-0 0-0

Punts 6-28.2 1-27.0

Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-1

Penalties-yards 6-45 4-50

––––––

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING –– Houston, Merckling 17-35, Smith 4-35, Hale 7-17, Foster 5-12, Walker 1-0, Poynter 4-(minus 3). Liberty, JaeAcklin 2-117, Porter 10-102, JaeAcklin 5-94, Rodriguez 2-11, Pruett 1-1.

PASSING –– Houston, Poynter 5-14-4 51. Liberty, JaeAcklin 9-15-1 163, JanAcklin 1-1-0 14.

RECEIVING –– Houston, Walker 3-39, Merckling 3-12. Liberty, JanAcklin 4-122, Denton 4-31, Howell 2-24.

The final standings for Class 2 District 3 with each team’s record and points based on overall record, point differential, opponents’ records and strength of schedule:

1. Liberty (Mountain View) 9-0 51.82

2. Strafford 9-0 48.97

3. Mountain Grove 8-1 48.02

4. Willow Springs 5-4 36.62

5. Fair Grove 2-7 22.83

6. Cuba 2-7 22.74

7. Houston 1-8 18.46

8. Pleasant Hope 1-8 18.45

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