AURORA — McDonald County’s Big 8 Conference opener Friday night against the Aurora Houn’ Dawgs resembled both a track meet and an elevator.

AURORA — McDonald County’s Big 8 Conference opener Friday night against the Aurora Houn’ Dawgs resembled both a track meet and an elevator.
The teams combined for 720 yards of total offense and 77 points and Aurora scored the game’s first and final 28 points for a 56-21 victory. The Mustangs scored the 21 points in-between Aurora’s assaults on the scoreboard.
Aurora scored 20 points in the first quarter and 21 in the fourth, both starting out and finishing up strong.
Billy Meredith caught a pair of touchdown passes from Payton Evans to get the scoring started, from 45 and 11 yards. Caelum Friggle put his name in the register with a 4-yard run in the first quarter.
Meredith scored his third TD of the night on a 11-yard run in the second.
That’s when the Mustang offense came alive, finding success through the air against the Houn’ Dawg defense.
Kennedy Hodson, a sophomore who shared quarterback duties last week with senior Elijah Curtis against Neosho, hit Dagan Stites for a 59-yard touchdown pass to get the Mustangs on the board.
Hodson and Mark Kailvoun connected on a 22-yard TD to close out the first half with McDonald County trailing 28-14 at halftime.
The Mustangs cut the lead to 28-21 with a 5-yard pass from Hodson to Stites.
Evans punched in a 7-yard run to give the Houn’ Dawgs a 35-21 edge headed into the fourth.
Aurora scored three rushing TDs in the fourth: Friggle on 50-yard and 67-yard runs and Chris Dettling on a 18-yard run.
The Houn’ Dawgs developed a balanced offensive attack Friday night, with 286 rushing and 187 passing yards producing 473 yards of total offense.
Evans completed 13 of 14 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns, while Friggle ran the ball for 195 yards and three scores on 15 carries. Meredith caught five passes for 107 yards and two scores, and added a rushing TD.
Meanwhile, for the Mustangs, Hodson threw for 214 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions on 20 of 36 accuracy.
Mustang seniors Stites and Curtis teamed up for 15 catches — Stites eight grabs for 92 yards and two scores, Curtis seven for 66 yards. Curtis played wide receiver last season and the Hodson-Curtis connection might be something to keep our eyes on the rest of the season. Stites did not play football last season.
Issrael DeSantiago, who scored the Mustangs’ first TD of the season last week against Neosho, rushed for 53 yards on 14 carries.
McDonald County (0-2, 0-1 Big 8) returns home next Friday for a Big 8 clash against the Cassville Wildcats.

MC                       0 14 7  0  — 21
AUR                     20 8  7 21 — 56

First quarter
A – Meredith 45 yard pass from Evans (kick failed)
A – Meredith 11 yard pass from Evans (Lindi Osmani kick)
A – Friggle 4 yard run (Osmani kick)
Second quarter
A – Meredith 11 yard run (Meredith pass from Evans)
M – Stites 59 yard pass from Hodson (Barton kick)
M – Kailvoun 22 yard pass from Hodson (Barton kick)
Third quarter
M – Stites 5 yard pass from Hodson (Barton kick)
A – Evans 7 yard run (Osmani kick)
Fourth quarter
A – Friggle 50 yard run (Osmani kick)
A – Dettling 18 yard run (Osmani kick)
A – Friggle 67 yard run (Osmani kick)