As Highland Park’s defense has improved, the Scots have climbed the District 7-6A standings, all the way back to the top.
HP held off Richardson Berkner 28-13 on Friday at Highlander Stadium to move into a first-place tie in the district standings with the Rams and Lake Highlands.
The Scots (5-1, 3-1) allowed just 100 total yards and no offensive touchdowns against Berkner, which averaged 42.5 points in its first four league games — all wins.
“They couldn’t get anything going offensively against our defense,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “Berkner is so explosive so you’ve got to do a great job tackling and take your gap responsibilities. It takes a team effort to bring those guys down. You’ve got to keep them pinned up.”
It was a dominating defensive effort in a game filled with mistakes and penalties on both sides. Neither team scored in the second half, just like in HP’s win over Jesuit Dallas a week ago.
However, the Scots took control with two quick touchdowns in the final two minutes before halftime. Warren Peck capped a 13-play, 90-yard drive with a 1-yard scoring plunge with 1:27 remaining.
Then a blocked punt gave HP the ball back near midfield. The Scots capitalized after a 26-yard strike from Peck to Parker Thompson set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Keller Holmes to make the score 28-7.
Berkner’s Dameon Crowe returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a score. The Rams (4-3, 4-1) also reached the end zone on a kickoff return by Jamary Williams earlier in the second quarter, after the second of two Nicholas Rigas field goals.
“We did what we had to do to score. We made some good drives, and that seven points right before halftime was huge,” Allen said. “In the second half, it was us controlling the football and running the clock.”
Earlier, HP marched 81 yards on its opening drive, culminating with an 8-yard touchdown scamper by Peck, But the fast start yielded an uneven offensive performance overall, as HP was shut out in the second half for the third time in six games.
The Scots generally struggled to capitalize on favorable field position, mostly due to a series of fourth-down miscues by Berkner. The Rams had three punts blocked or deflected and turned it over on downs three other times.
Berkner managed just one first down during the first 32 minutes of the game. And when the Rams finally sustained a drive late in the third quarter, they fumbled and HP’s Jonah Chahwan recovered.
The Rams responded with a big defensive play, as Jaquavious Kennedy returned an interception to the HP 15-yard line. But five plays later, they were stuffed on fourth down at the goal line.
Berkner’s comeback hopes also suffered a blow when starting quarterback Cornell McGee was injured late in the first quarter. He was on crutches after the game.
HP again found success with a balanced rushing attack. Holmes finished with a game-high 93 yards on 17 carries. Axley tallied 79 yards on the ground and another 62 yards on six receptions.
Peck completed 17 of 27 throws for 157 yards and ran for 42 yards on 12 attempts. He surpassed 1,000 passing yards for the season and has 13 rushing scores in six games. Overall, the Scots held a lopsided statistical advantage due in part to a 68-36 edge in offensive snaps.
“We ran the ball well and Warren made some timely passes,” Allen said. “We wore them down because we had the ball a lot.”
Next up, the Scots will have a short week to prepare for a road game on Oct. 12 against Irving Nimitz, which snapped a six-game skid by beating Irving on Friday.