The HHS defense lines up for a play during the first quarter of the Tigers’ win over Thayer Saturday afternoon in Tiger Stadium. The Big Red D didn’t allow the Bobcats to score in the contest.

After returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown and tacking on a 2-point conversion run, Thayer led 8-0 before 20 seconds had expired in a South Central Association football game Saturday afternoon in Tiger Stadium.

But the visiting Bobcats would not score again, as the host Houston High School football team scored 36 unanswered points on the way to a 36-8 win.

Midway through the first quarter, the Tigers gained possession deep in Thayer territory, recovering the ball at the Bobcats’ 17-yard line after a bad snap on a punt play. Moments later, Houston evened the score at the 7:44 mark of the period on a 7-yard touchdown run and a 2-point conversion run, both by senior Dakota James.

The two teams then exchanged blows for the rest of the first half and went into halftime with the score still knotted at 8.

But it was all Houston after the break, as the Tigers’ offense blistered Thayer’s defense for 28 points, including 8 in the third quarter and 20 more in the fourth.

HHS sophomore lineman Layne Seago (13) sacks Thayer quarterback Dawson Harris during the first quarter of an SCA game Saturday in Houston.

The lone score in the third period followed a sequence that began when the Bobcats tried a fake punt play, but HHS seniors Harold Lassiter and Anthony Carrol teamed up to bring down Thayer senior Peyton Mills well short of a first down and the Tigers had the ball at their own 42-yard line.

A short time later, Houston lined up for a 4th-and-6 play and got more than enough for a first down, as junior quarterback Wyatt Hughes and freshman wide receiver Jordan Arthur hooked up for a 42-yard passing gain to the Bobcats’ 21-yard line. James then ran the ball to the 2, and finished the drive with a short touchdown run to give the Tigers a 16-8 lead with 8:20 to go in the period.

The Tigers then turned the game into a rout in the final 12 minutes.

James struck again with a 46-yard TD dash with 7:04 to go in the game, and Houston was up 22-8 after a 2-point run failed.

Late in the fourth quarter, senior Zac Williams returned a punt 22 yards to give Houston possession at the Thayer 32-yard line. With 1:40 left in the contest, James scored again on a 4-yard run, getting hit in the backfield and breaking 3 tackles as he slowly but surely bashed his way into the end zone. Senior Sammy Nance made good on the Tigers’ first extra point kick of the season and the score was 29-8 in favor of Houston.

On the first play of Thayer’s ensuing possession, Carroll picked up a fumble and ran 22 yards for a touchdown. After Nance booted another extra point, the final score was on the board.

Houston sophomore Bryson Alexander (8) is grabbed by Thayer senior Peyton Mills after gaining yardage in the fourth quarter.

Houston’s Big Red D bent but never broke in the contest, preventing the Bobcats’ offense from scoring the whole way. Several HHS players turned in big plays on defense, including two on the same series in the first quarter, as sophomore lineman Layne Seago recorded a sack and a tackle-for-a-loss on back-to-back plays. On successive plays in the third quarter, Lassiter tackled Thayer junior Rowan Spencer for a loss and Williams stopped the drive with an interception on a deep pass. 

With the score tied at 8 early in the second quarter, the Bobcats had the ball with a first down at the Houston 10-yard line, only to be stopped cold and forced to turn the ball over on downs at the 7.

With the win, the Tigers raised their overall record to 5-0 for the first time since 1979 (when Houston won 11 straight before falling in the state semifinals) and 2-0 in SCA play. Next up is a trip to Ava for a key SCA matchup next Friday night (Oct. 2).

Doug Davison

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Contact him by phone at 417-967-2000 or by email at ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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