MCKINNEY -- Preston Miller secured a lead with a 70-yard touchdown run on the first play of the game, and HP tucked away the District 10-4A championship Friday with a runaway 49-0 win over McKinney North.
Unlike HP wins the past two weeks, there was no fourth-quarter drama at Ron Poe Stadium, or any other quarter, for that matter. Once Jake Howeth bolted 52 yards for another touchdown on a fourth down run late in the first quarter, this game had all the mystery of a sunrise as the Scots' offense unleashed a 500-total-yard beatdown against a Bulldogs team that sported one of the area's top defenses and was playing to take over first place from HP.
Two games still remain in the regular season for a Scots program that now has its second straight district title and eighth of the last nine seasons in tow. HP (8-0, 5-0) is one of two teams to already know its place in the upcoming Class 4A Division II Region II bracket. The Scots are the top seed from 10-4A and will face the second-seeded team from 9-4A.
As many as five 9-4A teams could be HP's bi-district opponent Nov. 11-13 based on current standings. Hutto (8-1, 4-1) is the other team set in place in the Division II bracket as the top seed out of 16-4A, and will be in HP's half of the regional bracket.
The Scots' defense was as impressive as the offense. HP picked off four McKinney North passes, with linebacker Reid Oden corralling one of the tipped passes 31 yards for a touchdown that gave the Scots a 28-0 lead midway through the second quarter. Blake Poston snagged two picks off similar passes down the right sideline. The senior captain outjumped the receiver for the first one, then hauled in an underthrown pass for the second in the second half.
Sophomore safety Hayden Greer, called up from the junior varsity last week, set the tone with an interception across the middle on the Bulldogs' second possession that set up Howeth's first touchdown run.
HP's defense held McKinney North (5-3, 3-2) to 15 yards passing, and had as many interceptions (four) as the Bulldogs did completions. The Scots earned their first shutout since a 62-0 win over Greenville in 2008 by taking full advantage of North's depleted offensive lineup that had a quarterback, Hunter Walling, who had spent most of the season on the junior varsity. Two of North's pass completions went for negative yardage.
Back on offense, HP had more than 100 total yards by its fourth play and had first downs on four of its first five plays. Miller posted his second 100-yard game of the season, finishing with 108 yards on 11 carries helped by the opening touchdown. Howeth also went over 100, with 148 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns.
If its early offensive salvos weren't enough while its defense established control, HP opened the game up with two touchdowns 40 seconds apart in the second quarter. William Morris had just missed a deep ball down the right sideline, so the Scots struck there again. This time, Colin Stringer raced in for a 67-yard touchdown, covering most of the yardage himself with 8:33 left before halftime.
Stringer led the Scots' receivers with 102 yards and the touchdown. Morris caught six passes for 82 yards.
Oden's interception off of a pass that Brant Green tipped came two plays later. North had a short punt on its next possession, and Howeth took advantage of a short field. HP ran the ball eight straight times to cover the 37 yards, with Howeth hurtling into the end zone froma yard out for a 35-0 lead with 3:17 left before half.
HP moved to the McKinney North six on its next possession, but threw an
interception in the end zone. It wouldn't matter.
Ben McElroy made a leaping grab for a 19-yard touchdown from Brady Burgin in the third quarter, and Burgin later made a gutsy scramper up the middle for a 29-yard touchdown to close HP's scoring.
The rest was up to the Scots' defense, which got wonderful play from its line in addition to the thieving secondary. Thomas Perry, Mark Dowdall and Mauricio Garza disrupted North's plays throughout, and left the Bulldogs with only 58 total yards at halftime.
HP hosts Rockwall-Heath (4-4, 1-4) back at Highlander Stadium next Friday, Oct. 29. The Scots will honor their seniors prior to the 7:30 p.m. kickoff. Rockwall-Heath must win to keep its slim playoff hopes alive.