There was cause for celebration after Highland Park’s game-winning kick put away Frisco Lone Star on Thursday. (Photo: Melissa Macatee)
FRISCO — After blanketing Frisco Lone Star receivers all night, Hudson Clark still had some energy left in his right leg as time expired Thursday.
The Highland Park cornerback kicked a game-winning 22-yard field goal to give the Scots a 10-7 victory over the Rangers at Frisco Memorial Stadium.
A game that was supposed to spotlight two high-powered offenses instead turned into a showcase for dynamic defenses that showed why both squads are considered state championship contenders in Class 5A.
“It was tough to get a drive going. Our defense was tired, but they kept hanging in there. They gave us a chance at the end,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “Our guys found a way to make it happen.”
Before his pivotal kick, Clark helped lead a stellar defensive effort by HP that kept the game tied for more than two full quarters while the offense struggled to consistently make plays.
In fact, the Scots (3-0) forced three turnovers but didn’t convert any of them into points, and a handful of penalties and punting miscues created favorable field position for the Rangers (2-1). Yet HP remained resilient.
“Our defense held us in the game for a long time, and we couldn’t get anything going offensively. We had bad field position and we had penalties. We were out of rhythm,” Allen said. “We just made a drive when we had to have it.”
Clark’s field goal capped a drive that started at the Highland Park 42-yard line with 1:22 remaining, after a fourth-down stop by the defense. Chandler Morris completed six of eight passes against somewhat soft coverage, including four to Drew Dodge. With nine seconds left, he hooked up with Finn Corwin for a 17-yard gain to the 5-yard line.
That set the stage for Clark, who was a substitute after HP missed its two prior field goal attempts. His only placekicking experience came when he booted an extra point during a blowout win over Royse City last year.
This attempt came with considerably more pressure. On the sideline, he only booted one ball into the warmup net before his number was called. In other words, he didn’t have much time to think about the situation, which helped.
“I just went out there and kicked,” Clark said. “The kick didn’t feel that good, but it still went in.”
For the bulk of the game, scoring came at a premium. The Scots reached the end zone midway through the first quarter on a 7-yard run by Morris. Two plays earlier, Morris and Corwin connected on a 41-yard pass, which was the longest gain from scrimmage in the game.
The HP defense took over from there. Prince Dorbah recovered a fumble near midfield late in the first quarter. Andrew Bonnet intercepted a pass in Lone Star territory with 3:29 left before halftime.
On their next possession, however, the Rangers tied the score on their biggest play of the night — a 37-yard touchdown pass from Julian Larry to Ife Opere.
In the third quarter, Brock Bakich picked off a throw to stop a scoring opportunity for the Rangers at the HP 10. But again, the Scots couldn’t capitalize.
Lone Star squandered a chance to take the lead late in the third quarter when a fumbled snap on a 29-yard field goal try turned the ball over to HP.
“We had two top-level teams playing,” said Lone Star head coach Jeff Rayburn. “Defensively, both teams stepped up and continued to stop each other.”
Morris completed 21 of 35 passes for 234 yards. For the second straight week, Corwin was by far his favorite target, catching eight balls for 135 yards.
After emerging from nondistrict play unbeaten for the first time since 2014, the Scots will open District 6-5A Division I play next week when they face Bryan Adams at Forester Stadium.