CARROLLTON - HP's defense came up with five takeaways, returning two interceptions for touchdowns, and the Scots' offense was near-perfect in the passing game in a 49-7 runaway bi-district playoff win over Frisco Centennial at Standridge Stadium.
The Scots (11-0) advance to the area (second) round to face Hillcrest (8-2), a last-minute 15-14 winner over Seagoville, at 7:30 p.m. next Friday at Highlander Stadium.
HP scored on three of its first four possessions, plus one of Centennial's, for a 28-7 halftime lead and the Titans (6-5) never threatened. The win was HP's sixth consecutive first-round playoff victory.
Junior defense end Thomas Perry sparked the first-half scoring with a 12-yard interception return for a touchdown. HP had just taken a 14-7 lead on
Dalton Stogner's 65-yard catch-and-run down the right sideline when Perry stole a pass on Centennial's second play.
The pick, one of five HP takeaways in the game, put the Scots ahead 21-7 following Nick Rose's point-after kick with 29 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Scots' defense is peaking at the right time. The Scots have come up with at least four takeaways in consecutive games and are now an impressive plus-21 on the season in turnover margin.
Senior linebacker Reid Oden had a career night. recovering a fumble at the HP 3-yard-line to kill Centennial's second drive, and also returning his second interception of the game 25 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown.
Senior defensive back and co-captain Blake Poston picked off his eighth pass of the season on the next drive, snagging Centennial quarterback Nick Foster's bomb at the HP 22. Poston has had at least one interception in the last four games.
That pick led to Jake Howeth's two-yard touchdown run to finish off a 9-play, 78-yard drive and a 28-7 lead. Junior quarterback Brady Burgin connected on 14- and 19-yard passes, and Howeth scampered for 17 yards on a key third-down play to extend the scoring drive that made Centennial's first game against HP one to forget.
"We kept them out of the end zone, which is not easy," Scots head coach Randy Allen said. "Our defense scored and set up scores. I think we're getting better."
Centennial moved inside the HP 20-yard-line four times, but came away with only seven points (on its opening drive). The Scots thrwarted one of
the drives with Oden's fumble recovery and the other two with fourth-down stops.
Offensively, HP posted some hefty numbers through the air just one week after rushing for 265 yards against McKinney last week. Combined, the HP quarterbacks were 19-of-21 for 341 yards. Burgin was a perfect 12-of-12 for 171 yards, and Howeth was an efficient 7-of-9 for 161 yards and tossed both Scots touchdowns. Howeth also rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns, both on short runs, to finish off the sixth 100-yard rushing effort of his career.
Centennial scored on its first possession coming off a big 56-yard pass play from Foster to Austin Schotts. Jamel Bullock ran 20 yards for the touchdown with 9:26 left in the first quarter.
HP responded after a good kickoff return started its first drive at its own 39. Howeth ran four times for 31 yards, and he an 11-yard pass to William Morris, and another to Ben McElroy that was good for an 18-yard touchdown to tie the score.
The Titans drove again to inside the Scots' 5 before Oden's fumble recovery.