While it was business as usual for the Highland Park defense on Friday night, the offense took a slightly different approach to yield the same results.
The Scots scored 34 unanswered points to rally past Lake Highlands 34-7 at Highlander Stadium for their 83rd consecutive home victory.
HP bounced back from a tough loss to Mesquite Horn last week, and remained a game behind the Jaguars for the District 10-6A lead with three games remaining.
On offense, the Scots took a more methodical approach than usual focused on establishing the run and controlling the clock. They ran 43 rushing plays and 16 passing plays — with just one completed pass in the first quarter — an unusual ratio considering HP’s quick-strike mentality.
One second-half drive covered 90 yards in 18 plays, and consumed eight minutes off the clock, ending in a 2-yard touchdown run by Hayden Black to help seal the win.
“It’s nice to know we can do that when we need to,” said HP head coach Randy Allen.
Just because the passes weren’t plentiful, however, doesn’t mean they weren’t effective. Brooks Burgin’s 11 completions racked up 237 yards, for an average of more than 21 yards per play. In fact, the 16 passing plays outgained the 43 rushing plays. But that can be deceiving.
“Balance in our offense means that if they give you the run, you’ve got to be good enough to take it and beat them with it,” Allen said. “We could have thrown the ball more, but the run was going good.”
Meanwhile, the HP defense got stronger as the game progressed. The Scots were stingy when it came to big plays, and surrendered only 80 yards in the second half.
HP spotted the Wildcats an early 7-0 lead when Lake Highlands marched 80 yards on its opening drive, scoring on a 53-yard pass from Brock Jones to Blake Cronin.
The Scots responded less than three minutes later, with Burgin capping the first HP possession with a 2-yard touchdown plunge.
Stephen Dieb later ran for two scores, while Burgin found Andrew Frost on a 34-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter that put the Scots ahead to stay.
The Wildcats had a chance to tie the score midway through the second quarter, but HP’s Daniel Gouskos recovered a fumble at the Scots 13-yard line. Dieb capped the ensuing drive with a short scoring run, and Lake Highlands never threatened after that.
Perhaps most importantly, after committing four turnovers in the defeat against Horn, HP was more efficient and didn’t have any miscues on Friday.
“I was really happy with the way they came back,” Allen said. “We made some improvements in certain areas, but still have some work to do.”
The Scots will hit the road for the next two games, including a third trip to Hanby Stadium next week to face Mesquite.