MESQUITE — The result was the same, even if the script was different for Highland Park on Friday against Mesquite Horn.
Instead of rallying from behind, as the Scots did during their season opener versus Rockwall seven days earlier, the Scots led from wire to wire during a 52-25 win over the Jaguars at Hanby Stadium.
And instead of an aerial attack, HP relied mostly on a ground assault in its second road win over a Class 6A opponent in as many weeks. The Scots scored six rushing touchdowns, including three from quarterback Chandler Morris.
It added up to a 33rd consecutive victory for HP, and also a milestone for head coach Randy Allen, who earned his 394th career win. That ties his mentor, Brownwood legend Gordon Wood, for third on the state’s all-time wins list. Allen replaced Wood at Brownwood when he retired in 1986.
Thirty-three years later, Allen appears to have one of his best offensive teams, if early returns are any indication. The Scots have scored 118 points in their first two games, heading into a showdown with Frisco Lone Star in next week’s home opener.
The Scots (2-0) reached the end zone on each of their first three possessions to take a 21-6 lead. Morris found Paxton Anderson three times on the opening drive, including for an 11-yard score.
Andrew Bonnet forced the first of two turnovers by the HP defense with an interception on Horn’s first play from scrimmage. That set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Morris.
The Jaguars (1-1) responded with a 75-yard drive of their own, capped by a Ben Wyatt touchdown scamper. But almost every time Horn threatened, HP seemed to have an answer.
Morris was nearly flawless on the next possession, completing all five of his throws before finding paydirt on an 8-yard run. All three rushing scores for Morris came in the first half, when the Scots established a 31-13 advantage.
HP relied almost exclusively on its running game after halftime to wind the clock and preserve the lead. Will Anderson, Brooks Bond, and Doak Walker each tallied short touchdown runs as part of the barrage.
“We ran the ball with our running backs and took some pressure off of Chandler. If we can do that, it’s just better for our offense,” Allen said. “Chandler can run with the ball, but I’d rather have somebody else carry it and let him throw the ball.”
Overall, Morris completed 17 of 24 passes for 210 yards and a touchdown, with two interceptions. He spread the ball around among his receivers, with Ben Smith leading the way with a team-high 104 yards on four catches.
Meanwhile, Case Savage celebrated a birthday by throwing an impressive 47-yard receiver pass to Will Pettijohn to set up a score in the third quarter. On another trick play, he tossed a pass to Morris for a two-point conversion.
Other top performers for HP: Anderson had a team-high 75 rushing yards on 18 carries. Hayden Clyce, filling in for injured kicker Wesley Winters, made a 30-yard field goal in the first half. Marshall Landwehr made a goal-line stop on a fourth-down rushing play. John Beecherl recovered a fumble that also led to a touchdown.
“I’m very pleased with our defense,” Allen said. “They put some good pressure on and made plays when they needed to. We’re still not where we want to be, but we certainly improved from the first week.”
Dual-threat quarterback Davazea Gabriel completed just nine of 24 passes, but one of them was a 55-yard scoring toss to N’Kowsi Emory. Gabriel also tallied a game-high 84 rushing yards with two scores.
Horn’s Cameron Jackson finished with a game-high five receptions for 116 yards. As for the defense, Nick Garcia and Keidrin Walker each snared interceptions, the latter of which came on the goal line midway through the third quarter. But the Jaguars couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity.
“They got up early on us, but we fought back and scrapped back and forced some turnovers,” said first-year Horn head coach Chris Hudler. “We just had too many negative plays and too many miscommunications. We put ourselves in some bad positions and didn’t make some plays when we had a chance.”