After Early Surge, Dragons Eliminate HP

ARLINGTON — For Highland Park to keep its season going, it had to accomplish what few others had — slowing down Southlake Carroll’s high-powered offense.

However, the Dragons unleashed a series of big plays on the ground and through the air during a decisive 45-14 victory in a Class 6A Division II Region I semifinal on Friday at Choctaw Stadium.

One week after advancing to the third round of the 6A playoffs for the first time with a thrilling comeback win over McKinney, HP suffered its most lopsided postseason defeat in program history.

The Scots (11-2), who are likely to move back down to the 5A classification when the next UIL realignment is finalized in February, also had a nine-game winning streak snapped on Friday.

It marked the final game for the majority of the players on HP’s typically senior-laden roster, who earned special praise from head coach Randy Allen for their leadership and tenacity.

“This senior class, we went as far as we could go. They did things that a lot of people didn’t think they could do,” Allen said. “They should be really proud of their accomplishments. It was a great season.”

The Dragons (12-1) reached the end zone on their first three drives and added two more scores in quick succession just before halftime to open up a 35-7 advantage as HP struggled to establish any momentum.

“They were very good offensively and defensively,” Allen said. “They’ve got a great team and have a chance to go all the way.”

Carroll rumbled for 367 yards on the ground, averaging more than 12 yards on its 30 rushing attempts. Davis Penn, a sophomore, led the way with 210 yards on 14 carries with three touchdowns, highlighted by a 90-yard scamper in the second quarter.

Riley Wormley, a Colleyville Heritage transfer who was cleared to play midseason for the Dragons after an eligibility hearing, added 125 yards on 10 rushes while adding a team-high 40 receiving yards.

Carroll also took advantage of some HP miscues, beginning with a blocked punt by Sam Fuller midway through the first quarter that was recovered at the 3-yard line. Penn scored on the next play to give the Dragons a 14-0 lead.

After a missed field goal. Carroll drove 80 yards, capped by a 26-yard touchdown pass from Graham Knowles to Brock Boyd. It was the second scoring strike of the first half for Knowles, a Georgia Tech commit.

HP’s Wes Giese intercepted a pass in the end zone early in the second quarter to steady the HP defense, but the offense could not capitalize in part because of Carroll’s consistent pressure in the Scots backfield.

Later in the second quarter, the Scots drove inside the Carroll 10-yard line before Dustan Mark recovered a fumble for the Dragons. Penn’s 90-yard sprint on the next snap made it 28-0.

The Scots got on the board with two big pass completions, a 41-yarder from Parker Thompson to Charlie Schneider and a 30-yard touchdown to Canon Spackman in the final minute of the first half.

However, the Dragons needed just one play to extend the margin again on a 61-yard rumble by Wormley, capping a stretch of three scores in a 71-second span.

Carroll turned to Penn again on its first possession of the second half. He carried on six straight plays for 61 yards, culminating with a 7-yard score.

The Scots drove into the red zone again later in the third quarter before losing another fumble, this one recovered in the end zone by Austin Davidge.

HP added a late touchdown on a 14-yard toss from Cade Trotter to Benton Owens to finish off a 69-yard drive.

Thompson, a dual-threat Air Force commit who transferred back to HP this season after spending last year at Carroll, was making his third playoff start and fourth overall. He connected on 14 of 32 passes for 189 yards.

Spackman was a bright spot for the Scots with a game-high five catches for 57 yards. Wilson Axley had 113 yards of total offense.

“At halftime, I just told them to win one play at a time and finish with pride, and play like they’ve played all year,” Allen said. “They did that, and some of them left it all out there.”

Share this article...
Email this to someone
Share on Facebook
Tweet about this on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.