MESQUITE — While the high-powered Highland Park offense usually grabs the headlines, on Friday the defense stole the show for the Scots.
HP endured season highs in both turnovers and penalty yardage, yet still pulled away for a 28-9 win over Mesquite Poteet at Mesquite Memorial Stadium.
That was due in large part to the HP defense, which recorded seven sacks, caused two critical turnovers, and surrendered just 75 total yards after halftime.
“We made a lot of mistakes and kept them out on the field a long time, but they played great in the second half,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “We tackled better, we played good pass defense, and we didn’t give up the big play like we did in the first half. We put pressure on the quarterback.”
The Scots (6-1, 4-0) won their sixth consecutive game, and are in the driver’s seat for another District 15-5A title with three games remaining against opponents near the bottom of the standings.
Early on, the HP offense was its usual efficient self, reaching the end zone on its first three possessions. Paxton Alexander scored twice in the first quarter, once on a 2-yard run, and again on a short pass from John Stephen Jones.
Both of those drives started in Poteet territory after special-teams miscues by the Pirates (3-4, 2-2) against a stiff breeze. HP’s Ryan Khetan recovered an errant punt snap to set up the second score.
Poteet got on the board with a 17-play drive that resulted in a field goal. But the Scots pushed the advantage to 21-3 early in the second quarter when Jones connected with Conner Allen on a 19-yard touchdown pass.
The Pirates bounced back with their only touchdown of the game on a 46-yard run by Seth McGowan to make the score 21-9. McGowan rushed for a team-high 119 yards on 19 carries.
The Scots had a chance to pad the lead late in the second quarter, with an impressive drive that started at their own 1-yard line. However, a Poteet sack led to the first of two fumble recoveries by Jimmy Phillips to end the threat.
Poteet’s best chance to chip into the deficit came in the third quarter, when the Scots muffed a punt deep in their own territory. But HP’s James Herring intercepted a Dalton Dale pass at the goal line to preserve the margin.
“They made some uncharacteristic mistakes and gave us an opportunity to get back in the game. We just couldn’t capitalize on it,” said Poteet head coach Kody Groves. “When they make mistakes, we’ve got to make them pay, and we couldn’t.”
The Scots later added some insurance when Jones scampered for a 5-yard touchdown on the final play of the third quarter. He set up the score with a 52-yard completion to Andrew Stanzel to start the drive.
The windy conditions likely played a role in the Scots committing three turnovers, which surpassed their total from the first five games combined. They also were flagged for 99 yards in penalties. The result was a season low in points.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” said Randy Allen, whose team will host next Forney on Oct. 27 at Highlander Stadium. “Let’s find out what we did wrong and correct it, and let’s be a better football team next week.”
Alexander finished with 143 rushing yards on just 12 carries to lead the HP offense. Jones completed 13 of 19 throws for 202 yards, while Cade Saustad caught five passes for a game-high 81 yards.