Despite moving the ball successfully on several occasions, the Houston High School football team managed only one touchdown in an 18-7 defeat in a South Central Association conference game last Friday night at Thayer.

With the host Bobcats’ defensive line virtually shutting down Houston’s typically prolific running game, the Tigers’ offense went to the air more than usual, and that lone score came on a passing play late in the first half when senior quarterback Wyatt Hughes tossed a short ball to senior running back Brady Brookshire, who then ran about 35 yards into the end zone, evading a defender with a nifty move inside the 5-yard line. Senior Stone Jackson the kicked an extra point, but that was it for Houston.

Meanwhile, Thayer scored on three lengthy long runs, including a 76-yard dash by senior running back Mark Spencer in the first quarter, a 32-yard scamper by Spencer on a sweep left early in the second period and a 35-yard run by 6-6 junior quarterback Devin Harrington midway through the fourth period.

Houston’s defense lines up for a play late in the first quarter.

“I thought it would be a pretty tough ballgame,” said HHS head coach Eric Sloan, “but I didn’t know they were going to own the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.”

Houston’s ground game produced only 48 yards on 31 carries. Hughes was sacked four times and ended up with minus 34 yards rushing.

“They brought more guys than we could block,” Sloan said, “and we struggled to do assignments that we’ve done all year. Then when we went to pass the ball, we couldn’t get it out quick enough a lot of the time.

“It started to feel wrong early when we couldn’t score from the 1, and it never felt right after that.”

Hughes did complete 14-of-28 passes for 198 yards, but there wasn’t much to show for it at the end of the night.

HHS senior Kayden Crawford had another good all-round performance, catching 4 passes for 71 yards at tight end and leading the Tigers in tackling with 13 at linebacker.

Houston turned the ball over twice on fumbles and the Big Red D allowed too many big plays.

“It was several blown assignments,” Sloan said, “and then they had a couple of athletes who were really good in space.”

A long-time basketball star, Harrington was playing in the fourth game of his football career.

“We hit him hard a few times and he never seemed to be fazed,” Sloan said.

When Houston scored late in the first half to cut the deficit to 5 points, coaches and players were encouraged about a comeback in the second half.

“But it didn’t happen,” Sloan said.

The Tigers (3-2, 2-1 SCA) host conference leader Ava (5-0, 3-0 SCA) this Friday. The Bears have recently added a stout passing game to their lethal ground attack.

“They’re really good,” Sloan said, “and they’re putting up stupid numbers on everybody – almost video game-like. We need to regroup and get some things figured out before Friday.”

Both Senior Night activities and Homecoming Queen coronation will take place prior to kickoff.

HHS senior quarterback Wyatt Hughes scrambles with the ball during the fourth quarter.

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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