After a stunning loss two weeks ago in which Houston County gave up two fourth-quarter touchdowns, the Bears returned to Columbia County with a new determination.
Houston County jumped to an early lead and held it through the second half, beating Evans 20-9 on Friday night.
The Bears had a 10-point lead through three quarters against Lakeside on Oct. 11, but the Panthers scored two late touchdowns and withstood a missed field goal attempt in the final seconds, sending the Bears home with a tough loss.
Houston County (5-3, 3-2 Region 2-AAAAA) returned to the area to face Evans on Friday, and the Bears made sure not to load the bus with the same feeling.
“We’ve been in that spot before, and we were able to fight through it this time,” Bears coach Von Lassiter said. “These kids fight hard every time out, and we’re blessed to pull out the win.”
Houston County jumped to a 20-point lead after the first quarter. The opening score came on a reverse that led to a 47-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Boyett to Caleb Daffron.
The Bears’ Jake Fromm and Kenny Gant built on the first-quarter lead with one rushing touchdown apiece.
“We were fortunate to execute the reverse,” Lassiter said. “We made a good throw, and it was an important first score. Thankfully, we kept the lead.”
Evans (4-4, 2-3) struck midway through the second quarter when Sean Vandiver intercepted Fromm and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown, giving the Knights new life.
But Evans managed just two points for the remainder of the game – those coming on a safety from a botched punt with 10:35 left in the fourth.
Houston County stiffened on defense when it mattered most, and the Knights were troubled by four turnovers, including three interceptions, two coming on consecutive drives by Quay Denning.
The Bears received 81 passing yards each from Boyett and Fromm. Gant had 47 rush yards, and Daffron added 91 receiving yards.
Evans’ Matlin Marshall went 12 for 23 for 93 passing yards and 53 rushing yards, including all three interceptions.
“We didn’t quit,” Knights coach Marty Jackson said. “We played our tails off. Turnovers were the difference. We can’t turn the ball over that much against a good team.”