If the Highland Park offense wasn’t always firing in its playoff opener, the defense made sure that didn’t matter.
The Scots pulled away late for a 33-10 win over Frisco Wakeland in a Class 5A Division I Region II bi-district game on Friday at Highlander Stadium.
HP advances to meet Magnolia in the area round at 7 p.m. Thursday at AT&T Stadium, where the Scots will return for the first time since defeating Alvin Shadow Creek in last season’s 5A Division I state championship game.
HP earned its eighth consecutive victory overall and its 19th straight postseason win, which is the longest such streak in school history and the longest active streak in the state in any classification.
“We’re getting better each week. I was really proud of how we played,” said HP head coach Randy Allen.
Chandler Morris completed 16 of 21 passes for 320 yards and two touchdowns — both of which came in the fourth quarter — to surpass 3,000 passing yards for the season. The highlight came on a 49-yard hookup with Drew Scott, who tallied a game-high 126 receiving yards on five catches.
Meanwhile, Hunter Heath continued to rack up yards on the ground, with 142 on just 11 carries before limping off the field with an injury in the third quarter.
Heath’s 24-yard touchdown scamper on the opening play of the second quarter put the Scots (10-1) ahead for good after an early 3-0 deficit. He started that same drive with a 35-yard gain.
While the offense accumulated some big numbers, the HP defense was stellar against a high-powered Wakeland offense, which was limited to its lowest scoring output of the season. The Wolverines (5-6) struggled to move the ball consistently despite controlling the clock and field position during much of the first half.
“They were very physical running the football and they ran the clock on us and played great field position,” Allen said. “We got some sacks and some tackles for losses. We do a great job of pressuring the quarterback and a great job stopping the run. We’ve been doing a great job on third downs.”
After the slow start, the Scots found their rhythm. They capped an impressive 84-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run by Will Anderson to extend the lead to 14-3.
Wesley Winters kicked two field goals for HP, including a 35-yard effort on the final play of the first half and a 32-yarder in the third quarter.
On the next possession, Wakeland drove deep into HP territory before Maxwell Warren intercepted a pass. Morris found Scott over the middle five plays later to make the score 27-3.
The Scots added another quick-strike touchdown on their next drive. Morris found Scott for a 35-yard gain, then connected with Case Savage on a 25-yard scoring pass that effectively put the game out of reach.
The Wolverines had two opportunities to trim the deficit early in the third quarter, but failed to take advantage. Tait Gleason recovered an onside kick to start the second half, and Noah Mangham pounced on a fumble deep in Wakeland territory a few minutes later.
“Against this team, you’d better make plays when you have the chance. We made a few, but not enough,” said Wakeland head coach Marty Secord, who coached HP defensive coordinator Cale Melton at McMurry University in the late 1990s. “They did a great job.”
Wakeland’s only touchdown came late in the fourth quarter, on a 4-yard pass from Dylan Laible to Julian Loeza. Laible finished 20-of-35 passing for 181 yards.
Wakeland, which tied for fourth place in District 5-5A during the regular season, fell to 1-9 all-time in bi-district playoff games.