By TONY EIERDAM
Iowa Park running back Kelly Houston rushed for 137 yards and scored a touchdown to lead the Iowa Park Hawks to a 52-13 win over the Mineral Wells Rams Friday in a non-district matchup on Homecoming Night at Ram Stadium.
The loss drops the Rams to 0-4, while Iowa Park moves to 3-1.
In what has become a pattern for the Rams, Iowa Park scored early and often with 28 first-quarter points and 35 by halftime.
But another pattern also emerged – the Rams once again were playing without six starters, including their top three running backs. But like last week against Glen Rose, several Rams stepped up to carry the ball. Receiver turned running back DaShawn Hicks turned in another steady performance with 63 yards to lead the Rams.
While discouraged with the outcome, Rams head coach Chuck Lawrence said Friday’s game was another stepping stone toward improvement as the team targets the district opener Oct. 11 at home against Castleberry – also a day where MWHS could be at its healthiest all season.
“DaShawn got better this week and he is going to get better next week,” Lawrence said. “And hopefully when we line up to play Castleberry (in the district opener Oct. 11) he will be even that much better.
“Offensively, we built on what we did last week, and we have next week at Burkburnett and an off week of practices to get this thing going in the proper direction for Castleberry.
“We tried to get DaShawn loose on the outside,” Lawrence continued. “Tristan (Seargeant) did a good job on runs up the middle like he did last week (against Glen Rose).
“The offense was an extension of last week. Iowa Park was big, and at times we handled it OK, but on other occasions we didn’t.”
Lawrence did not try to sugar coat the defense, which gave up 458 total yards and a few big plays through the air.
“Defensively, we blew two coverages,” Lawrence said. “We didn’t tackle very well at times, and it cost us points. We can’t continue to give up points at this pace and expect to beat anybody.”
After spotting the Hawks 21 points, the Rams put together an eight-play, 57-yard scoring drive.
Quarterback Caleb Acosta connected on a pair of passes to set up a third and two from the IP 49.
Continuing to run well inside, Seargeant bullied his way up the middle for 11 yards and a first down.
Seargeant followed with a carry off tackle for four yards, and on second down Hicks gained three yards to set up a third and three from the IP 42.
On the ensuing play Seargeant got the call, and the sophomore gained the exact yardage needed for another first down. After an eight-yard scramble by Acosta, Sergeant’s number was called again and he blasted up the middle for 11 yards to the end zone. Patrick Folkner booted the extra point to cut the Hawks’ lead to 21-7.
It took less than a minute for the Hawks to answer as IP scored on a 49-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Derrick Ponder to receiver Franco Nieto.
The Hawks would add a pair of TD runs in the second period, while the Rams managed field goals of 30 and 35 yards, respectively, by Folkner.
IP closed the scoring in the second half with a touchdown on defense on a fumble return and a 42-yard field goal from Bailey Hale.
“We have to continue to mesh, and most important we have to get some of these kids healthy,” Lawrence said. “We still have six starters out, and that gives us a short stick.
“I don’t want to use that as an excuse because the rest of the guys are playing hard, but we have to tackle better and we have to hold onto the ball. We have to stop making mistakes that are hurting us.”