FORNEY — By the end of Friday’s game against Forney, it was easy to forget that Highland Park actually trailed at the end of the first quarter.
HP shook off some early lethargy with 44 unanswered points, including four straight touchdown drives in the second quarter, while cruising to a 44-7 victory at City Bank Stadium.
The winning streak stands at six games for the Scots (7-1, 5-0), who remain in sole possession of the District 15-5A lead heading into their home finale against last-place Royse City next week. And they clinched a playoff spot in the process.
The HP rushing game continued to blossom in the victory with a collective 231 yards and four touchdowns. Jack Kozmetsky paced the Scots with 77 yards and a score, while Jacob Urbanczyk added two touchdowns.
“It wasn’t the strength of our football team early in the year, but we had a bunch of injuries,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “Now that we’ve got most of our guys healthy, especially in our offensive line and backfield, we’re able to run the ball, and people are playing us for the pass because we’re a little lopsided in total yardage for the season.”
John Stephen Jones tossed second-quarter scoring strikes to Cade Saustad and J.T. Dooley as part of a second-quarter barrage that turned a 7-0 deficit into a 27-7 lead within the span of 10 minutes.
The HP defense took over from there, holding a fourth opponent this season to seven points or fewer. After an early touchdown drive, Forney struggled to move the ball. The Jackrabbits (3-5, 1-4) completed just eight of 22 passes with three interceptions, and averaged only 2.6 yards per rushing attempt.
“Our defense has played great all year, and they did a super job,” Allen said. “Everybody is contributing, and everybody makes a play when it’s their turn.”
The Scots evened the game at 7-7 on a 4-yard pass from Jones to Saustad on the opening play of the second quarter. They enjoyed favorable field position to start their next three drives thanks to a pair of short punts and an interception by Luke Blanton.
Kozmetsky put HP in front with a 1-yard touchdown plunge, then Urbanczyk scampered 13 yards for a score. On the next drive, Jones found a leaping Dooley from 19 yards out to put the Scots ahead by 20 points at halftime.
HP’s O’Neill Sitzer picked off a Forney pass on the second play of the third quarter. Then the Scots converted two lengthy drives into touchdowns after halftime — one capped by a 7-yard Urbanczyk run, and the other by a 23-yard run from Paxton Alexander. Matteo Cordray added a late 26-yard field goal to complete the scoring.
The Jackrabbits tallied their touchdown on an 8-yard pass from Devon Rideaux to Brendan Vaughn late in the first quarter. It was set up by an HP fumble on a punt return.
“We were more relaxed in practice this week, and I could tell in the pregame warmup that we didn’t have much emotion,” Allen said. “Good football teams have to go out and execute and win games when they’re not emotional, and our guys did a really good job of turning it around.”
Forney’s only other scoring threat came in the third quarter, on a 13-play drive that included a 57-yard pass from Rideaux to Vaughn. But the possession stalled on downs following a personal-foul penalty inside the HP 10-yard line.
The Scots swept the two Forney ISD schools on their home field this season by a combined score of 110-14.