On a night in which Randy Allen surpassed yet another milestone, his current Highland Park team moved one step closer to another district title.
HP rallied from a first-half deficit and surged past Mesquite Poteet 40-29 on Friday at Highlander Stadium, putting the Scots in sole possession of the District 15-5A lead and giving their head coach his 200th victory at the school.
The Scots (6-1, 4-0) needed a comeback to make that happen, however, as they scored 33 consecutive points after falling behind early to move to 17-0 all-time against the Pirates. With its fifth straight win overall, HP is now a game in front of Poteet and West Mesquite in the 15-5A standings with three weeks left to play.
It was easily the most impressive offensive performance of the season for the Scots, who accumulated a season-high 616 yards of total offense against one of the top defensive units in the Dallas area.
John Stephen Jones passed for 381 yards — of which 304 came before halftime — including lengthy scoring passes to Hudson Wood and Cade Saustad. Jack Kozmetsky ran for 146 yards on 28 attempts with two critical touchdowns in the second half.
Those numbers are indicative of the balance that the HP offense used to wear down Poteet, which hadn’t allowed more than 24 points in a game all season prior to Friday.
“This was the best game we’ve had offensively, and the most balanced game we’ve had all year,” Allen said. “We beat man coverage, which we’ve been working on, and then we also ran the football against a good defense.”
The Pirates (4-3, 3-1) jumped on top early thanks in part to some HP miscues. Poteet’s ChaCha Corbin returned a red-zone fumble by the Scots 90 yards for the opening score.
HP responded immediately with a 75-yard strike from Jones to Wood on the ensuing play. But on the next snap, Poteet’s Daiquan Jackson rumbled 47 yards. He later capped the drive with a 2-yard plunge to put the Pirates back on top.
Jackson scored again less than two minutes later on a short drive started by the first of two blocked punts near midfield for the Pirates. They also blocked an extra point and a field goal as part of an aggressive special-teams strategy.
Jackson’s second touchdown extended the Poteet advantage to 22-7 in the first minute of the second quarter. He finished with 97 rushing yards.
“They did some really good things in the first half, but the problems we had were correctable,” Allen said. “We did a great job in the second half.”
Then the Scots got into gear. Jones found Saustad for a 43-yard touchdown, and then wore down the Poteet defense with a 14-play drive that ended with a short field goal by Jackson Hubbard.
Trailing 22-16, HP struck quickly on its first four possessions of the third quarter. Two ended in Kozmetsky touchdowns. Another was capped by a 31-yard Paxton Alexander scamper to the end zone. And Hubbard added another field goal after a fumble recovery on a fake punt by Luke Blanton. Suddenly, the Scots were ahead 40-22.
“They grabbed the momentum, and we couldn’t do a whole lot about it. They made the big plays when they had to,” said Poteet head coach Kody Groves. “We kind of got stuck in one end. Momentum and field position are a big deal in football, and I thought they capitalized.”
The Pirates regained some momentum when Corbin scored his second touchdown of the game, this time on offense via a 78-yard pass from Kaleb Fletcher. Poteet’s Mekhi Garner intercepted a pass two plays later, yet the Pirates couldn’t capitalize.
The HP offense showed some big-play explosiveness by averaging almost 24 yards per completion — Saustad finished with 161 receiving yards and Wood tallied 104 — but also managed to grind the clock when necessary to dominate time of possession. The Scots ran 81 offensive plays compared to only 46 for the Pirates.
“We’ve got a really good defense, and we didn’t look real great,” Groves said. “That’s a testament to how well they played.”
Allen has the most wins of any coach in HP history and is fourth all-time among coaches statewide (with 353 victories in 35 seasons). He has averaged more than 11 wins per season since arriving at the school in 1999, and has never lost more than one regular-season game in any year during that span.
“Every Scot football team that I’ve coached has been just like this one. They’re never out of it, they always fight to the end, and they always come up with big plays when you need them,” said Allen, whose team will travel to Forney next week. “This is a great group of guys to coach, and I just love being here.”