Valley Preps

Harris County’s offense was ‘only positive’ in error-filled win over Northside, coach says

Harris County faced the same problems Friday night often seen by teams considered the favorite to win the game.

On the road and facing a raucous Northside crowd — and an inspired Patriots football team — the Tigers committed far too many mistakes. They committed penalties that wiped out multiple touchdowns on the same drive, but they would eventually pull ahead late in the game for a 62-42 victory.

But there’s good news for Harris County — their issues did not really matter Friday night because they are explosive and still came out on top.

Still, there were not many positives Tigers head coach Jamie Fox could take away from the win. His team was pushed to the brink by a winless team in a lower classification.

The Tigers defense was gashed by Northside’s offense, and mental errors gifted the Patriots with three short fields.

“Offense played well, obviously,” Fox said. “I guess that’s about the only positive. ... Hopefully the film will show some fixable things or correctable mistakes that we made, and we’ll see much improvement next week. We’ve got to get better.”

That offense was a massive positive.

The Tigers led off the night with a hook-and-ladder, scoring their first touchdown on a receiver reverse to Tailique Williams.

Williams is arguably the most explosive player on a roster full of speed.

Quarterback Cooper Corey connected on a 51-yard score with receiver Jarell Smith, who darted past Northside’s two deep safeties on the Tigers’ second drive. All the sophomore had to do was lob the ball downfield and let Smith sprint under it. Nobody else was catching the ball — or Smith — until the receiver handed it to the referee in the end zone.

On a night where the Tigers’ special teams and defense left much to be desired, their offense carried the load.

The Tigers finished with more than 600 total yards. They scored touchdowns of 51 yards, 47 yards and 39 yards on the night, and got a little help from a certain quarterback who did not start the game.

Remember Davion Mahome? The senior quarterback went down with an injury early in the Tigers’ season-opening victory over Carver. That game proved as the coming-out party for Corey. Mahome had his breakout game a while ago, but made an emphatic return Friday night.

The senior scored touchdown runs of 35 yards and 22 yards, and threw a 15-yard touchdown pass in the first half. He finished the night with 101 rushing yards.

“I’m glad he came back this week,” Fox said with a laugh.

The Tigers’ attack stayed balanced throughout the night. Running back Xavier Richmond ran for 134 yards and two touchdowns, while Corey finished with 159 passing yards and one touchdown despite throwing just one second-half pass.

Then there was the Tigers’ electric receiver Williams, who finished the night with 178 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.

The mistakes cannot be ignored. Fox called the Tigers’ special-teams outing, which included a muffed punt, two fumbled snaps and a handful of missed extra points, “pretty bad.” Northside’s 42 points were the most it has scored all season and the most the Tigers have surrendered all season.

The good news for Fox and the Tigers is that the mistakes are correctable. Plus, the team’s offense is also their fail safe.

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Joshua Mixon is a reporter for the Ledger-Enquirer. He covers sports (Auburn and preps) and local news, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America. He previously covered Georgia athletics for the Telegraph. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshDMixon.