Morgan

Hollister quarterback Layton Morgan (6) finds himself surrounded by a swarm of Lamar defenders during the second quarter of Friday night’s game.

Lamar High School may not have invented the formula for winning high school football games.

But the Tigers just may have perfected it.

Lamar does the little things right that has added up to winning on the big-time level in the Ozarks, with the Tigers’ string of seven consecutive Class 2 state championships ending in last year’s semifinal round.

That formula includes playing rugged, physical defense, forcing turnovers while taking care of the football, and trotting out a stable full of disciplined, talented offensive players capable of scoring from anywhere on the field.

Lamar had that recipe on display on Friday night on a trip to Hollister, overcoming an early 3-0 deficit in claiming a 34-3 victory.

“In the end, they’re going to wear you down a little bit,” Hollister coach Rich Adkins said. “They are a great football team. It’s a beast to stand up to and hang in there with them.”

Lamar finished with 435 yards of offense – 422 on the ground – and scored touchdowns on its final three possessions of the first half after Hollister took an early 3-0 lead.

Three more scoring drives in the second half, aided by four Hollister turnovers, helped Lamar put the game away and improve to 2-0 on the season.

“We had opportunities to make plays and be in the middle of it, and I think that’s the frustrating part of it, then we had the turnovers and stuff like that,” Adkins said. “We had some opportunities in the passing game and couldn’t quite connect. 

“There are positives we can take from it, but if you don’t take advantage of those opportunities in the passing game, Lamar is going to wear on you, and that’s what they did.”

The missed opportunities started early for Hollister (1-1), which took advantage of a short punt to take over on the Lamar 48-yard line midway through the first quarter of a scoreless game.

A nine-play drive appeared to end with a touchdown on a third-and-goal play from the Lamar 1-yard line, when quarterback Layton Morgan surged into the end zone on a sneak up the middle.

But a flag was thrown, with officials ruling a teammate helped by pushing Morgan from behind. The 5-yard penalty wiped the touchdown off the board, and Clay Humbyrd booted a 22-yard field goal to give Hollister a 3-0 lead.

That’s when Lamar took over.

A big kickoff return after the field goal gave Lamar a first down on the Hollister 27-yard line, and a four-play drive ended in a Donte Stahl TD from 3 yards out early in the second quarter.

A three-and-out on Hollister’s next possession led to a Case Tucker TD run of 48 yards, then Tucker capped a nine-play drive with a 2-yard TD just before the half.

In the second half, Hollister turned the ball over on its first play of the second half, then again on its second possession.

Tucker scored on a 16-yard run midway through the third quarter, capping a two-play, 26-yard drive after the second lost fumble by Hollister. Juan Juarez booted a 32-yard field goal at the end of the third quarter to make it a 27-3 game, and Cade Griffith ran in from 36 yards out early in the fourth for an insurance score.

Lamar ripped off 13 running plays of at least 10 yards, with Tucker finishing with 151 yards on 14 carries. Griffith added 115 yards on only four rushes. Hollister, meanwhile, finished with 184 total yards and turned the ball over four times, plus losing the ball on downs after a fumbled snap on a fourth-down play in the first half from the Lamar 23-yard line and the score still just 12-3.

Of Hollister’s 184 yards of offense, 52 came on a run by Orlando Pera late in the game.

“I guarantee you we will be able to look at the film and take away some good things, and see some correctable mistakes,” Adkins said. “I feel like a lot of the things we did on the offensive side, especially, we can take care of. I think we have a chance to be a pretty good team.”

Hollister’s passing game struggled for the second consecutive week, but there were signs of progress. Morgan completed 4-of-12 passes for 53 yards, and Lamar was whistled for a pair of pass interference penalties.  Adkins attributed it to growing pains for a group of receivers that is new and playing bigger roles in the offense.

“I think with more reps and routes, things will get a little more crisp,” Adkins said. “But right now, it’s just not where we want it to be. It’s something that we’ll keep working on, and I think it’s going to pay off. Layton can really throw it, and there were times he launched it way downfield, and our receivers kind of gave up on it a little bit. We need to make them realize the play is never over, and they have to stay with it.”

Up next for Hollister is a trip to Springfield Catholic next Friday. The Fightin’ Irish followed up a Week 1 victory over Seneca with a 49-21 home loss to Cassville in Week 2.

“It doesn’t get any easier,” Adkins said. “The best thing we can do is get our kids healthy, and let it roll again.  (Springfield Catholic) hasn’t slowed down a ton, and they are still a beast at what they do. They are going to win a lot of games.”

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