After matching the Houston Hurricanes score for score during the first half of play, the Mabel-Canton nine-man football team saw another road game slip away last Friday.

It was the official conference opener for both teams. After receiving the opening kickoff, the Cougars drove 65 yards in seven plays capped by Hunter Johnson's 37-yard touchdown run and conversion kick. Houston returned the ensuing kickoff 35 yards before taking the lead 8-7 with a 37-yard touchdown run by Peter Jergenson and a two-point conversion run by Tyler Hoskins.

In the second quarter, each team put together another long scoring drive. Christian Sires passed 54 yards to Mason Drake to put Houston up 14-7, then M-C came right back with a 35-yard Johnson run, setting the stage for quarterback Collin O'Bieglo (two for nine), who passed 12 yards to Donnie Lind and 27 yards to Justin Ward. Johnson carried it in from the one, but the conversion snap never made it to the tee.

Unfortunately for the Cougars, that scoring drive would hold their last pass reception as they managed only one first down in the second half.

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes ran and passed at will, scoring on their first three possessions of the second half with drives of 78, 65 and 37 yards. Dylan Lee scored on a 10-yard run in between two Jake Englund scores... a 10-yard toss from Sires and a four-yard plunge. Three plays later, Englund returned an interception 35 yards to complete the scoring with just under nine minutes to play.

Sires, a 6-foot junior, completed 10 of 18 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns plus a pair of two-point conversions. Drake (79 yards), Englund (78 yards), and Tyler Hoskins (26 yards) each had three receptions. Jergenson, a 6-foot, 215-pound junior, finished with 191 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries.

For the Cougars, Johnson carried 17 times for 93 yards while scoring all 13 M-C points. Junior Noah Manning rushed 14 times for 61 yards, and snagged an interception in the second quarter.

Houston gained 186 yards in the air and 248 on the ground for a 434 to 207 advantage in total yardage. The Cougars' lone statistical edge came with only four penalties (25 yards) while the Hurricanes were flagged 11 times for 75 yards. Mabel-Canton lost the turnover battle four to one, losing all three fumbles in addition to the Englund pick and score. The only Houston turnover came shortly before halftime with Manning's interception and a penalty-shortened 20-yard return.

Manning had battled illness during the week. Mason Henry remained on the Cougar injured list from an incident last week while Ward left this game with an injury.

Although not satisfied with the result, Mabel-Canton Coach Karl Urbaniak said his Cougars showed some definite improvement from their August 31 loss at Spring Grove. "The kids worked hard, and I think we got better," he noted. "We need to react faster and build some more confidence, and we've got a long way to go, but if this team continues to work hard, we'll continue to make progress..."

Urbaniak said some sloppy tackling in the second half helped to get the Hurricanes moving.

The Cougars will open play on their home field on Friday, Sept. 14, when a tough Lanesboro squad comes calling. On Sept. 21, Mabel-Canton hits the road again, bound this time for Grand Meadow.

Southeast Conference 2012

FOOTBALL conf. season

W L W L

Grand Meadow* 1 - 0 2 - 0

Spring Grove* 1 - 0 2 - 0

Houston 1 - 0 1 - 1

Glenville-Emm. 1 - 0 1 - 1

Lanesboro* 0 - 1 1 - 1

LeRoy-Ostrander 0 - 1 1 - 1

Mabel-Canton 0 - 1 0 - 2

Lyle/Pacelli 0 - 1 0 - 2

* defending champions