ARLINGTON – There weren’t many style points that came with Highland Park’s 35-28 win over Prosper on Saturday, but at least the Scots showed the ability to bounce back from adversity.
A week after having their 84-game home winning streak snapped, HP took control midway through its final nondistrict game, then held off a late surge by the Eagles at AT&T Stadium.
Henry Allen had his most impressive game thus far as a varsity starter, completing 24 of 35 passes for 370 yards and three first-half touchdowns. Stephen Dieb added a pair of short scoring runs after halftime for the Scots (2-1).
Meanwhile, the HP defense limited Prosper’s rushing attack to just 86 yards in the second half after the Eagles (2-1) rolled up 226 yards on the ground in the first half.
Yet while there were plenty of positives for the Scots, the game also exposed several areas of concern that will get the attention of HP players and coaches during the upcoming bye week, which will precede the District 10-6A opener on Sept. 25 against North Mesquite.
“We’re not where we want to be. We’re making improvements, but not making those giant leaps yet,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “We’ve got to get better on defense, as far as stopping the run. That’s going to be our No. 1 focus. And we’ve got to get better on offense running the ball.”
The HP offense was efficient before halftime, especially through the air, as Henry Allen completed his first eight throws for 187 yards and two long touchdowns on consecutive possessions – a 63-yarder to Cy McCullough in the closing seconds of the first quarter followed by a 49-yard connection with Parker Alexander.
Then came a 9-yard touchdown catch by Chris Buell late in the first half to give the Scots a 21-6 lead at the break. Buell led all receivers with 11 receptions for 155 yards.
“Offensively we played a good first half,” Randy Allen said. “We showed that we can make some big plays and showed that we can move the ball.”
Dieb extended the lead to 28-6 midway through the third quarter with a 1-yard touchdown plunge, and the Prosper rushing attack that was so potent early began to sputter.
“Defensively we got better as the game wore on,” Randy Allen said. “Early on, they wore us out. As we got used to their speed and their option, we played better. We didn’t seem to get hurt outside as much.”
Prosper’s Robert Mahone finished with a game-high 187 rushing yards (including 136 in the first half) on 27 carries. He scored three touchdowns, including two in a span of 3:12 early in the fourth quarter that got the Eagles back in the game.
Mahone caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Davis on fourth-and-3 from the HP 11-yard line to open the fourth quarter. It capped a 16-play, 75-yard drive in which the first 15 plays were all on the ground.
The Scots turned the ball over on the ensuing drive when Prosper’s Douglas Cueva picked off a pass near midfield. Four plays later, Mahone scored on a 10-yard run and the two-point conversion trimmed the HP lead to 28-21.
HP padded the lead when Dieb capped an impressive 75-yard drive with a touchdown run, but Prosper again rallied when Davis found Bayley Mack on a 78-yard scoring pass to make the score 35-28 with 2:05 remaining.
From there, however, the Scots recovered Prosper’s onside kick and got the one first down they needed on a short pass from Henry Allen to Buell followed by a quarterback sneak on fourth down.
HP was able to recover from a slow start stemming from a 15-play, 93-yard drive by the Eagles that Mahone capped with a 9-yard run late in the first quarter. Prosper finished with 501 yards of total offense.
Still, while HP struggled to put the game away, just as it did against Frisco Centennial in a season-opening nail-biter, the Scots made the plays during crunch time.
The win was the third straight for HP at the home of the Dallas Cowboys, with their most recent victories coming in consecutive weeks during the 2013 playoffs.