Thursday, September 22, 2011
Byers claims historical win
By BARRY BURLESON
H.W. Byers was in a familiar spot at halftime Thursday night.
The Lions led a Region 1-Class 1A opponent 22-8, just as they had two weeks before.
But this time the final outcome was much different. They celebrated the first district football win in school history, 36-8, over Houlka. The game was played at Okolona High School.
“We suffered a devastating loss versus Smithville,” coach James Kimbrough said about the game September 2 when the Seminoles rallied late and won in overtime.
“But we had a week off to work on some things and make some defensive changes, and our kids bounced back.
“They picked us to finish last in our division, and the kids are taking that personally.”
Byers grabbed the lead last week on a 53-yard pass connection from Anthony Rubin to Ronnie Dennis with 9:52 to go in the first quarter. Rubin kept the ball for the successful two-point conversion.
The Lions started their sack attack early and kept the heat on the Wildcat offense all night long.
“We changed our whole defensive scheme,” Kimbrough said. “We became the aggressor. We consistently got into their backfield and caused disruption.”
Houlka’s only points of the night came on the first play of the second quarter. R.J. Johnson’s 2-yard touchdown run was followed by a pass for the two.
Byers answered with a 72-yard drive to take the lead for good. Rubin threw to Djuan Delaine for a big gain and then he tossed to Dennis for a 5-yard touchdown. The quarterback again kept for the two.
Houlka got a big kickoff return into the Lions’ territory. But on a fourth and 11 try, Trelorenz Stephens intercepted a pass and returned it 95 yards for more Byers points. The try-for-two failed. The score was 22-8 with 5:25 to go in the second quarter.
The Byers defense again did its job to open the second half – forcing a three and out.
The offense took over at its own 19. On third and eight, Marquis Moore got loose for a 54-yard gain to the Houlka 25. Dominic Jones carried twice, the latter being 14 yards to the end zone. The try-for-two was not successful. Byers led 28-8 midway through the third quarter.
The Lions added one more touchdown – this one capping a 75-yard march to open the fourth period. Jones and Moore had big runs; then Stephens dashed 45 yards for the score. Rubin threw to Dennis for the two points.
Coach Kimbrough said his sophomore quarterback is playing like a senior.
“He is making the right reads and putting his throws on the money,” he said. “We’re trying to get more kids the ball and letting them make plays. We’re looking to throw as much as we’re looking to run.”
Kimbrough said his defense had a “breakout game” versus Houlka, his Lions’ first win of the season. The Wildcats had just six first downs, two of those coming on penalties.
“We needed three and outs and we had a lot,” he said.
Dennis was named the game’s most valuable player. In addition to his two touchdown catches and one two-point conversion, he had five tackles for loss and two quarterback sacks on defense.
“I only have 18 players, but it’s the best 18 I could have as far as doing the job that needs to get done,” Coach Kimbrough said. “There is no quit in them.”
The Lions (1-3) host a very talented Vardaman team this Friday at 7:30 p.m. in another district contest. The Rams beat Smithville 31-0 last Friday.
“They have good players all over the field,” Kimbrough said.
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