Jake Fromm was sharp from the start, and Veterans’ tackling wasn’t.
The combination allowed Houston County to take the lead and keep it en route to an impressive 46-27 win Thursday night in front of a large crowd at McConnell-Talbert Stadium.
The Bears took control from the start and pretty much kept it in the first meeting of the schools that are only about seven miles apart.
Fromm, a sophomore, had 212 yards passing at halftime and kept going, but got a boost in the running game from Kenny Gant, who had 24 carries for 139 yards.
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Fromm finished 18-for-33 for 435 yards with five touchdowns.
"Not bad for having to go to the hospital (Wednesday) and get IVs all day with a stomach virus," Houston County head coach Von Lassiter said of Fromm. "I thought he played pretty good."
Veterans quarterback Logan Byrd had a rough night as Houston County’s defense had the answer for the Warhawks’ passing and running game.
Byrd finished 15-for-30 for 203 yards and two interceptions, adding 135 yards on 11 carries.
Houston County never trailed, holding Veterans to single touchdowns in three quarters and never allowing the Warhawks to get anything going, although they stayed within striking distance.
Veterans had trouble all night making tackles and giving up yards after contact.
The Bears were impressive on their opening drive, Fromm completing 5-of-9 for 105 yards and Houston County converting a third-and-18 and fourth-and-15.
The latter ended up with Darion Anderson catching a 26-yard touchdown pass from Fromm. The conversion failed with 9:57 left.
Houston County drove, boosted by a 52-yard pass from Fromm to Anderson on third and 4, only to stall and get a 27-yard field goal from Jordan Strevig.
Byrd’s 27-yard run off the left side was followed three plays later by a 42-yard completion to Isaiah Gray, who adjusted for the nice catch.
Byrd went in from 6 yards to open the second quarter and pull the Warhawks within 9-7.
Houston County promptly – and smoothly – answered, as it did all night, with a six-play, 50-yard drive, keyed by Gant’s 25-yard run. He took the 7-yard flare pass from Fromm, broke a tackle and scored.
The conversion failed again, but the Bears led 15-7.
Veterans’ first heart-breaking turnover followed six plays later, after Byrd blasted off the left side and split defenders for 56 yards.
He rolled right, but threw right to Houston County’s Eli Watson at the goal line.
Veterans moved again on its next trip, but Jarrell was stripped at the 10 and fumbled.
"We made some plays on defense and had three turnovers," said Lassiter, whose team had two interceptions and a fumble recovery. "I was real excited about that."
The Bears needed five plays to go 80 yards.
Veterans’ poor fundaments hurt again, as one defender missed the ball and another the tackle as Fromm connected with Anderson for 43 yards and a touchdown with 1:28 left in the half.
The PAT was good for a 22-7 lead.
Veterans was sharp in driving 80 yards to open the second half, aided by a two Houston County penalties inside the 10 on fourth down.
The Warhawks went for it and Byrd scored from 3 yards out and Veterans pulled within 22-14 with 8:08 left in the third.
Then Fromm led the Bears to breaking it open, with a 44-yard scoring pass to Anderson four plays after Byrd’s score. Houston County then ate up about five minutes after a 3-and-out for a field goal and a 32-14 lead.
Byrd found Colby Mauldin for a 16-yard touchdown two plays after a 51-yard pass to Rochell Dinkins only for Houston County to answer on its next possession for a 39-21 lead with 10:47 left in the game.
HOUSTON COUNTY 46, VETERANS 27
Houston County 9-13-10-14—46
HC — Darion Anderson 26 pass from Jake Fromm (kick failed)
HC — Strevig 27 field goal
V — Logan Byrd 6 run (Will Brannen kick)
HC — Gant 7 pass from Fromm (run failed)
HC — Anderson 43 pass from Fromm (Strevig kick)
V — Byrd 3 run (Brannen kick)
HC — Anderson 44 pass from Fromm (Strevig kick)
HC — Strevig 28 field goal
V — Colby Mauldin 22 pass from Byrd (Brannen kick)
HC — Gant 12 run (Strevig kick)
V — Justin Booket 10 pass from Byrd (pass failed)
HC — Gant 15 pass from Fromm (Strevig kick)
First downs 23 22
Rushes-yards 41-272 26-145
Passing yards 203 435
Comp-Att-Int 15-30-2 18-34-0
Fumbles-Fumbles lost 1-1 0-0
RUSHING — Veterans: Justin Jarrell 15-67, Blake Horne 14-80, Byrd 11-135; Houston County: Gant 21-126.
PASSING — Veterans: Byrd 15-30-2 203; Houston County 18-33-0 435.
RECEIVING — Veterans: Justin Booket 4-13, Isaiah Gray 3-71, Rochelle Dinkins 2-44, Matthew Lauritsen 2-30; Darion Anderson 6-185, Gant 5-55, Jaylen Searcy 4-104, Amari Colbert 2-66.