Four touchdown passes. Thirty-one points. Almost 300 yards of total offense. That was just in the first quarter for Highland Park on Friday.
The Scots used a high-powered offense and an opportunistic defense to roll past Mansfield Summit 52-20 in a Class 5A Division I Region II semifinal at SMU’s Ford Stadium.
HP will continue its quest to defend its state title when the Scots play Mansfield Lake Ridge in the regional final at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
John Stephen Jones threw four touchdown passes in the first quarter, two apiece to Finn Corwin and Cade Saustad, as HP raced to a 31-13 lead and never looked back. The Scots (12-1) racked up 348 yards of total offense before halftime.
The HP defense helped the cause by forcing a season-high four turnovers — including two interceptions by Marshall Ballard — all of which led to offensive touchdowns.
“They set us up with great field position,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “Our guys put some points on the board, and it helps when you get four turnovers.”
The Scots have won 12 consecutive games overall, and are averaging more than 60 points in their three playoff victories.
With the Scots leading 17-13 in the first quarter, Hudson Clark intercepted a pass near midfield. HP capitalized shortly thereafter with a 24-yard scoring pass from Jones to Corwin.
On the next offensive play for the Jaguars (8-5), Ballard picked off a pass deep in Summit territory. Two plays later, Jones connected with Saustad from 14 yards out, and the Scots were rolling.
“We were clicking,” Allen said. “That was a great quarter. Our guys, once they get used to the speed of our opponents, they seem to play better as the game goes on.”
The teams traded big plays in the opening minutes. HP scored just 42 seconds into the game on a 60-yard strike from Jones to Corwin. Summit answered three plays later with a 77-yard pass from Brysen McKinney to Devrick Wilkerson.
The Scots responded quickly with a lengthy drive capped by a 26-yard touchdown reception by Saustad. But two plays later, McKinney scampered 60 yards to the end zone.
HP scored on its first five possessions before Summit’s William Jones intercepted a pass in the end zone midway through the second quarter.
McKinney scored on a 38-yard run to open the second half and trim the HP lead to 31-20, but again the Scots responded almost immediately. Jones hooked up with Corwin for a 20-yard touchdown strike.
The Scots recorded another takeaway on the next Summit drive, when Elliott Newsom recovered a fumble in Jaguar territory. That led to a 5-yard scoring run by Paxton Alexander, and the Scots stretched the advantage to 45-20.
Jones completed 24 of 30 passes for 409 yards and five touchdowns despite taking multiple hard hits from an aggressive Summit defense, one of which caused him to exit the game for a few plays in the second quarter.
“He’s tough and he wants to play.” Allen said. “He took some licks, and sometimes it’s hard to come back and play well. He was really effective.”
Corwin caught a career-best 10 passes for 193 yards. Saustad hauled in eight throws for 82 yards. Alexander tallied 114 yards of total offense.
Ballard added a second interception in the fourth quarter to stop a 16-play drive that reached the HP 27-yard line. The Scots scored again on the ensuing possession, with Conner Allen plunging into the end zone from 1 yard out.
McKinney led the Jaguars with a game-high 148 rushing yards and averaged more than 12 yards per carry.
Lake Ridge (12-1) earned its 12th straight victory with a 38-28 win over Prosper on Friday. The Eagles knocked off Summit 28-21 earlier this season.