Homecoming couldn’t have begun any better.

A queen was crowned, the game ball was delivered by a helicopter and Houston scored on its first two drives for a quick lead.

It also couldn’t have ended much worse.

Willow Springs scored 40 of the next 46 points to erase the deficit and cruise to a 40-18 win Friday night at Tiger Stadium.

“We got off to a great start and then things slowed down and they started having some success,” Tigers coach Eric Sloan said. “It’s the same story. We just struggled and couldn’t correct it.”

The Bears (4-3, 2-3 South Central Association) burnt the HHS defense with their counter running plays. They had 366 rushing yards on 53 attempts.

Ben Wake led the way with 13 carries for 133 yards and touchdown runs of 39, 3, 37 and 49 yards. Quarterback Bryce Duddridge threw for 144 yards and ran for 91.

Chance Hunter led Houston (1-6, 1-4 SCA) with 19 carries for 149 yards and for the second straight week returned a kickoff for a score. Sophomore quarterback Paydon Dixon had a pair of touchdown passes.

An Air Evac helicopter delivers the ceremonial game ball for homecoming.

Shortly after Air Evac landed at midfield with the ceremonial game ball, the Tigers covered 65 yards on four plays for a quick lead. Dixon hit fullback Michael Clayton out of the backfield for a 29-yard score just 1 minute, 44 seconds into the contest.

After forcing a punt, Houston scored again at the 4:18 mark when Dixon found Connor Clifton in the back of the end zone for an 11-yard score.

But two touchdown runs from Wake gave the Bears a 14-12 halftime advantage.

“They kept running counter, and we couldn’t stop it. It was the same story all night,” Sloan said. “We try to hand tackle and arm tackle. That doesn’t work in the third grade, let alone the varsity level.”

After Dakota McDaniel made a leaping catch and score for the Bears, Hunter returned the ensuing kickoff 92 yards for a score to make it 21-18.

But Willow Springs finished the game with 19 unanswered points to spoil Houston’s 2016 homecoming.

“We’re just not consistent,” Sloan said. “We do some really good things, then we do some boneheaded things. If it will ever come together, we could be pretty good. When we’re hitting on all cylinders, we’re a pretty good ball club.”

Houston sophomore Aiden Sawyer catches a pass in front of Willow Springs’ Bryce Duddridge in the first half Friday.

BOX SCORES

Houston 7 7 13 13 –– 40

Willow 12 0 6 0 –– 18

First Quarter

HOU –– Clayton 29 pass from Dixon (run failed), 10:22.

HOU –– Clifton 11 pass from Dixon (run failed), 4:18.

WS –– Wake 39 run (Webb kick), 1:50.

Second Quarter

WS –– Wake 3 run (Webb kick), 6:33.

Third Quarter

WS –– McDaniel 69 pass from Duddridge (Webb kick), 9:35.

HOU –– Hunter 92 kickoff return (run failed), 9:21.

WS –– Wake 37 run (kick failed), 2:31.

Fourth Quarter

WS –– Wake 49 run (kick failed), 8:33.

WS –– Rader 11 run (Webb kick), 4:09.

––––––

WS HOU

First downs 14 12

Total yards 510 234

Rushes-yards 53-366 29-165

Passing 144 69

Punt returns 0 0

Kickoff returns 16 218

Comp-att-int 7-13-0 5-15-0

Sacked-yards lost 0-0 2-13

Punts 4-35.8 4-22.5

Fumbles-lost 6-1 1-1

Penalties-yards 12-115 8-45

––––––

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING –– Willow Springs, Wake 18-133, Duddridge 8-91, Rader 11-75, Talbert 15-61, McDaniel 1-6. Houston, Hunter 19-149, Dixon 9-17, Alston 1-(minus 1).

PASSING –– Willow Springs, Duddridge 7-13-0 144. Houston, Dixon 5-15-0 69.

RECEIVING –– Willow Springs, McDaniel 5-96, Miller 2-48. Houston, Clayton 1-29, Sawyer 2-24, Clifton 1-11, CLee 1-5.

Houston linebacker Connor Clifton chases after Willow Springs quarterback Bryce Duddridge as he carries the ball Friday.

Week 7 scores

Willow Springs 40, Houston 18

Liberty 50, Cabool 0

Mountain Grove 55, Salem 0

Ava 34, Thayer 19

Team Record Points

1. Liberty 7-0 52.06

2. Mountain Grove 6-1 45.96

3. Ava 5-2 44.15

4. Diamond 5-2 40.10

5. Willow Springs 4-3 32.37

6. Strafford 2-5 26.86

7. Cuba 1-5 22.44

8. Houston 1-6 19.64

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