Houston senior Kolby Walker - shown wrapping up Thayer’s William Tillman during the 2014 season - will represent the Tigers in the 14th annual Grin Iron Classic.

The Houston High School football team is winless in five games this season. But that fact hasn’t shaken the confidence of coach Billy O’Neil.

“If the boys believed in themselves as much as the coaches believe in them, I don’t think we’d have the record we have,” he said.

Now in the most grueling portion of the schedule –– South Central Association games –– O’Neil isn’t surrendering the season. Following Friday night’s 41-20 home loss to Thayer, O’Neil said he and his staff will continue to prepare the team to win games.

“We’re not giving up on them, and we don’t want them to give up on themselves,” O’Neil said. “I don’t think they have a problem giving up on their teammates, but they sometimes have a lack of self confidence.”

Although the Tigers (0-5, 0-2 South Central Association) were well behind against Thayer, O’Neil was pleased with his team’s effort to the finish.

Houston scored three times in the final 10 minutes. Ty Wilkins had an 11-yard run, Scott Logan scored from three yards away and Malachi Sawyer plowed into the end zone from five yards.

“The kids never stop playing and never quit,” O’Neil said. “They hustled every play.”

Thayer (3-2, 2-1 SCA) racked up 429 total yards. Quarterback Ayden Henry was 11-for-17 passing for 182 yards and William Tillman led the rushing attack with nine carries for 85 yards.

Scott Logan led Houston with 74 rushing yards. Sawyer added 49 and Wilkins had 38 rushing and another 45 receiving.

The Bobcats jumped ahead just 55 seconds into the game. One play after an interception, Henry connected with Braydon Pender over the middle for a 22-yard score.

Early mistakes –– the first of two Houston turnovers –– have been an issue for the Tigers.

“We’ve put ourselves in the hole early in almost every game,” O’Neil said. “I’ve yet to figure out why.”

Hargrove finished an 11-play drive with a one-yard score early in the second quarter. The Bobcats led 20-0 when Henry hit Hargrove for a nine-yard score 34 seconds before halftime.

Henry, who had four touchdowns passes, found Tillman for another nine-yard on the opening drive of the third quarter. Hargrove made it 34-0 on his 10-yard run with 3:30 left in the third.

“They were big, strong and football smart,” O’Neil said. “They were taught well.”

The Tigers recovered a fumble at the end of the third quarter to set up their first scoring drive. Eight plays after the turnover, Wilkins scored from 11 yards away.

After Matt Griffith’s touchdown reception from Henry, the Tigers punched in another touchdown. Junior Nathan Poynter found Wilkins for a 46-yard gain to the Thayer 3-yard line. On the next play, Scott Logan dove across the goal line for his third rushing touchdown of the season.

After forcing a Bobcats punt, Houston moved quickly down the field for a final score. Highlighted by Scott Logan’s 33-yard run, Houston went 69 yards in seven plays. The drive ended with Sawyer’s five-yard score.

O’Neil said inexperience is the biggest factor in his team’s struggles. He expects eight starters to return next season on both sides of the ball.

“We have kids playing 100 percent but sometimes they are fundamentally wrong,” O’Neil said. “It’s just a lack of varsity experience, and they’ll be so much better next year for it.”

BOX SCORE

Thayer       7      13      14      7      –      41   
Houston        0    0    0    20      –    20 

First Quarter

THA – Pender 22 pass from Henry (Tyler kick), 11:05.

Second Quarter

THA – Hargrove 1 run (Tyler kick), 8:13.

THA – Hargrove 9 pass from Henry (run failed), 0:34.

Third Quarter

THA – Tillman 9 pass from Henry (Tyler kick), 10:44.

THA – Hargrove 10 run (Tyler kick), 3:30.

Fourth Quarter

HOU – Wilkins 11 run (kick failed), 10:03.

THA – Griffith 8 pass from Henry (Tyler kick), 6:28.

HOU – ScLogan 3 run (run failed), 3:57.

HOU – Sawyer 5 run (Poynter run), 0:15.

––––––

THA HOU

First downs 19 10

Total yards 429 257

Rushes-yards 48-247 35-195

Passing 182 62

Punt returns 29 0

Kickoff returns 57 127

Comp-att-int 11-17-0 5-13-2

Sacked-yards lost 1-10 0-0

Punts 3-36.0 5-27.2

Fumbles-lost 2-2 0-0

Penalties-yards 10-90 5-29

––––––

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING – Thayer, Tillman 9-85, Hargrove 12-59, Henry 11-59, Pender 7-17, Griffith 4-14, Ary 3-6, Kaffka 1-6, Caldwell 1-(minus 1). Houston, Logan 11-74, Sawyer 11-49, Wilkins 7-38, Poynter 6-34.

PASSING – Thayer, Hargrove 11-17-0 182. Houston, Poynter 5-13-2 62.

RECEIVING – Risner 2-59, Kaffka 2-44, Hargrove 4-40, Pender 1-22, Tillman 1-9, Griffith 1-8. Houston, Wilkins 2-45, Schock 2-12, Sawyer 1-5.

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