As Ty Wilkins spun off a tackle and sprinted into the end zone, Tiger Stadium erupted in excitement. It was homecoming and the Houston High School football team had its first lead of the season.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, it didn’t last.
Just 12 seconds after Wilkins’ rushing score, Willow Springs answered with a touchdown of its own. The Bears regained the lead and never trailed again as they outlasted HHS 34-26 Friday night.
“I heard a quote once that said, ‘We didn’t lose, we just ran out of time,’” Tigers coach Billy O’Neil said. “I don’t think they beat us. We played right with them and made it a game. I was very proud of the kids.”
Houston (0-7, 0-5 South Central Association) had more first downs than Willow Springs and a 343-326 advantage in total yards. But two missed opportunities in the red zone ultimately cost the Tigers a chance at victory.
The first came late in the third quarter when Houston marched to the Willow Springs 4-yard line before turning it over on downs.
The next possession –– after forcing a Bears’ punt –– Houston advanced to the Willow Springs 10 when the drive stalled due to an unsportsmanlike penalty.
“Again, it was the little things that stopped us,” O’Neil said. “We’re still growing and still learning.”
The Tigers rejuvenated their offense by moving leading rusher Scott Logan from wing back to quarterback. He rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown and also threw a pair of touchdown passes.
Wilkins led the HHS offense with 13 carries for 93 yards and a score. Wilkins and Matt Knarr both had touchdown receptions.
It was an exciting start for both teams as they combined for four touchdowns in the opening 5 minutes, 20 seconds.
Willow Springs (3-4, 3-2 SC) took an early lead on Chris Stanley’s 53-yard rushing score. But the Tigers responded two plays later as Scott Logan hit Knarr streaking down the middle of the field for a 53-yard score.
The Tigers recovered an ensuing onside kick and took the lead as Wilkins scored from 33 yards out.
The Bears recovered the next onside kick and went ahead 14-12 as Keegan Hoopes romped 57 yards for a score with 6:40 left in the first half.
Willow Springs gained 201 of its 326 rushing yards on four long touchdown runs. Stanley scored from 53 and 41 yards away, and Hoopes had touchdown runs of 57 and 50 yards.
“We had a good scheme to stop their Wing T and for a majority of the time we did,” O’Neil said. “The big plays hurt us. We shut them down for two plays, then give up a big play that goes for a touchdown.”
HHS trailed 28-20 at the half following Scott Logan’s 5-yard touchdown run with 1:06 left in the second quarter.
The Tigers, who fell behind 34-20 on Hoopes second touchdown run, pulled within a score when Wilkins hauled in a 45-yard pass for a score from Scott Logan with 3:10 remaining.
Willow Springs recovered the onside kick attempt and burnt all but the final 2.8 seconds off the clock.
“Even when we did things wrong, we were going 100 percent. People were trying,” O’Neil said. “One day we’ll stop making the small mistakes, and we’ll be a very good football team.”
WS – Stanley 53 run (Fine kick), 9:00.
HOU – Knarr 53 pass from ScLogan (run failed), 8:12.
HOU – Wilkins 33 run (pass failed), 6:51.
WS – Hoopes 57 run (Fine kick), 6:40.
WS – Stanley 41 run (kick failed), 9:37.
WS – Combs 2 run (Wake pass from Combs), 4:15.
HOU – ScLogan 5 run (ScLogan run), 1:06.
WS – Hoopes 50 run (run failed), 7:18.
HOU – Wilkins 44 pass from ScLogan (kick failed), 3:10.
RUSHING – Willow Springs, Stanley 19-155, Hoopes 14-123, Combs 11-30, Minge 1-2, McDaniel 1-0, Thornton 1-(minus 5). Houston, Wilkins 13-93, ScLogan 23-88, Knarr 2-26, Cooper 6-16, SWelch 2-5.
PASSING – Willow Springs, Combs 0-2-0 0, McDaniel 0-1-0 0. Houston, ScLogan 3-10-0 115, Poynter 0-1-0 0.
RECEIVING – Willow Springs, none. Houston, Knarr 1-53, Wilkins 1-44, Cooper 1-18.
Week 7 scores
Willow Springs 34, Houston 26
Mountain Grove 43, Salem 0
Ava 25, Thayer 14
Liberty 68, Cabool 7
Week 8 games
Houston at Mountain Grove
Ava at Cabool
Liberty at Salem
Thayer at Willow Springs