After bad play, Jennings makes big plays in Calhoun City win over Houston

HOUSTON – On his third play from scrimmage, Calhoun City’s J.R. Jennings threw an interception on his first pass attempt of the game. But the remainder of the first half was nothing but positive for the senior quarterback and his Wildcat teammates.
Calhoun City (2-0) took advantage of three Houston turnovers in the opening half en route to a 41-0 road victory Friday night. Jennings accounted for three first-half touchdowns as the Wildcats rolled to a 28-0 halftime advantage and coasted the rest of the night.
“We just had to regroup after that first drive,” said Jennings. “We got it rolling pretty good after that. But we still have a lot to work on and lot to improve. We’ve got to take positive steps each game.
Jennings had a pair of touchdown passes in the first half, and capped off the opening half with a 1-yard scoring plunge as time expired. Jennings finished with 95 yards passing and three touchdowns while rushing for 94 yards and two more scores.
Meanwhile, Houston managed to have more turnovers (three) in the first half than first downs (two). Houston head coach Buz Boyer rotated juniors Brenan Pugh and Devoris Ivy at quarterback but both found the going tough all night long.
The Hilltoppers (0-2) had just 24 total yards in the first two quarters of action, and all came on the ground. For the game, Houston finished with just 96 total yards and four first downs.
“We told our kids we have to overcome adversity,” said Calhoun City head coach Perry Liles following the win over his prep alma mater. “We showed we could do that tonight. We had a few turnovers and a few penalities. But they always bounced back and kept giving us good effort, and that’s what we like to see.”
Liles used a variety of weapons in the running game, much like he did in their season-opening win. Calhoun City rushed for a total of 354 yards, led by Jennings. Avery Hill also rushed for 85 yards and one touchdown, while Lavarious Varnado added 82 yards on the ground.
“We’ve got some good ninth-grade backs mixed in with some solid senior backs,” said Liles. “We want to keep using a good number of guys running the ball. That way we’ve always got fresh backs in the game and fresh legs in the fourth quarter.”

Paul Jones/Special to the Journal