Despite having committed six turnovers, the Houston High School Football Tigers held a 3-point lead with less than a minute to go in their season-opening game against Orchard Farm Friday night in Tiger Stadium.

But victory wasn’t meant to be for the host Tigers, as the visiting Eagles scored on a 30-yard touchdown pass with 51 seconds left and escaped with a 25-22 win.

After committing four turnovers in the first half, Houston trailed 13-0 at the break. The Tigers gave up the ball three times on fumbles and once on an interception, but their defense rose to the occasion time and again and prevented Orchard Farm from running up the score, even forcing the Eagles to turn the ball over on downs twice.

The second half started similarly for Houston. Sophomore DJ Riley ran back the opening kickoff 45 yards to the Eagles’ 45-yard line, and on the first play from scrimmage, senior quarterback Wyatt Hughes and senior tight end Kayden Crawford hooked up for a 38-yard pass play to put the ball on the Orchard Farm 7.

After dropping back into his own end zone, Orchard Farm sophomore quarterback Collin Sinclair barely escapes the grasp of HHS senior linebacker Brady Brookshire.

But a couple of plays later, another fumble gave the Eagles possession again.

But with under 2 minutes left in the third quarter, Houston finally got on the board when Hughes threw a touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Jordan Arthur on a fourth-down play from the Orchard Farm 12-yard line. After the extra point kick was blocked, Houston had cut the deficit to 13-6.

Then early in the final period, the turnover bug bit the Tigers hard when junior defensive back Jon Kennedy stripped the ball in traffic and ran it back 39 yards for a touchdown. After a flubbed point-after kick, the Eagles were ahead 19-6. 

But Houston responded in a hurry, as Arthur took the ensuing kickoff at the Houston 25-yard line and raced 75 yards for a TD. After senior running back Grayson Mitchell busted through traffic for a 2-point conversion, the Eagles’ lead had been cut to 19-14 with 11:07 to go in the contest.

After the two squads traded possessions, the Tigers got the ball at their own 20-yard line with less than 4 minutes remaining. On the first play of the series, Hughes tossed the ball to Arthur, who was wide open behind the Eagles defensive backfield, and he ran untouched into the end zone for an 80-yard scoring play. Mitchell then notched another 2-point run and Houston had the lead at 22-19 with 3:41 showing on the clock.

HHS junior wide receiver Jordan Arthur runs for an 80-yard touchdown on a passing play to give the Tigers a brief lead late in the fourth quarter. Arthur scored all three of Houston’s TDs in the game.

But Orchard Farm regained the advantage moments later when sophomore quarterback Collin Sinclair found Kennedy for a 30-yard touchdown pass. A 2-point run failed, but the Eagles were back on top at 25-22.

The Tigers kept battling and moved the ball to the Orchard Farm 25-yard line, but their hopes were dashed when a pass fell incomplete at the goal line on a fourth down play with 11 seconds to go.

The game concluded with Sinclair taking a knee.

The Eagles’ win avenged a 49-8 loss to Houston on their home field in last year’s season-opener for both teams.

The Tigers (0-1) host Fayette next Friday in the second of three straight home games.

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

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