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.
HP clinched the District 10-4A championship with its win Friday night, and also sent the district's playoff race back into a mess in the middle with McKinney North moving back into a tie for second place. Next Friday's games will go a long way toward sorting out playoff contention, as six teams are still vying for the three remaining playoff spots. HP will play in the Division II playoff bracket.
Here are the updated standings through Friday's results, along with the enrollment figures used to determine a team's playoff bracket. The two teams with the highest enrollments among the four playoff qualifiers play in the Division I bracket. The other two will be in Division II.
|DISTRICT 10-4A FOOTBALL STANDINGS|
|Highland Park (6)||5-0||211||91||8-0||337||184||5-0||3-0|
|McKinney North (8)||3-2||118||138||5-3||195||190||3-1||2-2|
|Richardson Pearce (4)||3-2||186||167||4-4||283||269||2-2||2-2|
|Wylie East (7)||0-5||83||248||2-6||203||337||2-3||0-3|
Fri., Oct. 29 Schedule
Rockwall-Heath at HP, 7:30 p.m.
McKinney North at Rockwall, 7:30 p.m.
Rich. Pearce at Wylie, 7:30 p.m.
Wylie East at McKinney, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 22 Results
HP at McKinney North, 7:30 p.m.
McKinney at Rich. Pearce, 7:30 p.m.
Rockwall at Wylie East, 7:30 p.m.
Wylie at Rockwall-Heath, 7:30 p.m.
HP exploded with offensive fireworks in the first quarter, and its defense withstood four fourth-down challenges from McKinney North in a 28-14 win Thursday at Highlander Stadium. The Scots remain undefeated at 7-0 and are now 5-0 against District 10-4A competition. HP plays at Rockwall-Heath next Thursday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m.
HP sent its second drive into the end zone when quarterback Scott Ellerman hooked up with Charles Hubbard down the right sideline for a 28-yard score. Hubbard ran an out-and-up pattern that froze his defender, leaving him wide open for Ellerman's touch pass that reached him in stride for the easy score.
McKinney North came back one play later when Selwyn Smith broke free up the middle and raced 80 yards for a touchdown.That big play prompted the Scots to go to their big-play guns as well.
Ellerman hit Hubbard again in the right flat, and Hubbard found running room cutting back into the secondary. He weaved across the field and found the left sideline void of defenders to complete a 74-yard touchdown catch-and-run that traveled well over 120 yards.
HP wasn't done yet, but relied on its defense to make the lead hold up. The Scots stopped the Bulldogs short on two fourth-down plays, giving them positive field position throughout the half. Ellerman struck again, this time finding Matt Bannon in the middle with enough room to turn the corner down the left sideline and into the end zone for a 34-yard touchdown.
The score gave HP a 21-7 halftime lead after the third of Mason Juhl's point-after kicks. The Scots had one last scoring try in the final seconds of the half, but Juhl pushed a 44-yard field goal attempt wide left but with plenty of distance.
The teams traded fumble recoveries in the third quarter, with HP getting the second one at the McKinney North 25-yard line. Ellerman hit Sam Hayward
with a fade pass to the left corner of the end zone three plays later for a 28-7 lead.
Ellerman finished one of the best passing nights of his career 18-of-27 for 283 yards and four touchdowns, thanks mostly to the Scots' offensive line that continued to clear the way and give him time to pass. HP's starting set of linemen - Tanner Hutt, Charlie McKenzie, Josh Williams, Hilton Kennington and Bennett Campbell - stayed on the field into the fourth quarter with one of thier top games of the season.
The Scots' defensive front mounted ever-present pressure in the Bulldog backfield, with the front seven hawking the ball throughout. Tom Robinson, Evan Farley and Will Clarke held the running game at bay, leaving room for linebackers Charlie Mitchell, Bryce Green, Ian Hayashi and Travis Alford room to make plays.
The Bullldogs scored a touchdown late but couldn't get the ball back from the Scots to mount a comeback.
McK. North 7 - 0 - 0 - 7 = 14
HP 14 - 7 - 7 - 0 = 28
1Q - HP - Charles Hubbard 28 pass from Scott Ellerman (Mason Juhl kick)
1Q - MN - Selwyn Smith 80 run (Will Ashun kick)
1Q - HP - Charles Hubbard 74 pass from Scott Ellerman (Mason Juhl kick)
2Q - HP - Matt Bannon 34 pass from Scott Ellerman (Mason Juhl kick)
3Q - HP - Sam Hayward 8 pass from Scott Ellerman (Mason Juhl kick)
4Q - MN - TreVaughn Bailey 1 run (Will Ashun kick)
Individual Offensive Statistics
Rushing: Alex Keeton 10-45; Rob Williams 7-34; Sam Landess 3-15; Scott Ellerman 1-2.
Passing: Scott Ellerman 18-27-0, 283 yards, 4 TD.
Receiving: Charles Hubbard 4-132, 2 TD; Matt Bannon 2-41, TD; Hunter Halpin 4-32; Alex Keeton 2-29; Rob Williams 2-24; Wills Manley 3-18; Sam Hayward 1-8, TD.
COPPELL -- The HP JV Gold team kept its undefeated season intact Thursday buoyed by a big first half in a 30-7 win at Coppell. The Scots are now 7-0 on the season with two regular-season games remaining.
The Scots' defense came up with two takeaways, one of which Willy Beecherl returned 70 yards for a touchdown that gave HP an 18-7 lead in the middle of the second quarter. Jet Tuma accounted for three touchdowns, two through the air and one on the ground, to put the game away.
Tuma found Hank Howard for a 15-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and a 6-0 lead. The Scots moved into the Coppell red zone again before the quarter was out, but Coppell came up with an interception in its own end zone to end the threat.
The Cowboys took the lead early in the second quarter with a touchdown, but HP came right back. Kace Coyle caught a 50-yard touchdown bomb from Tuma to put the Scots back ahead, 12-7. Beecherl's fumble recovery and touchdown expanded the lead.
The Scots' defense recovered another fumble, which led to a last-minute scoring drive. Tuma ran in from short yardage with 0:03 on the clock for a 24-7 lead after a missed two-point conversion.
Tuma struck again in the third quarter on a 5-yard run, and the Scots' defense shut down Coppell the rest of the way to seal the win.
The JV Gold is in action again next Thursday, Oct. 28, at 5:30 p.m. at Rockwall-Heath.
HP 6 - 18 - 6 - 0 = 30
Coppell 0 - 7 - 0 - 0 = 7
1Q - HP - Hank Howard 15 pass from Jet Tuma (pass failed)
2Q - COP - TD (kick good)
2Q - HP - Kace Coyle 50 pass from Jet Tuma (run failed)
2Q - HP - Willie Beecherl 70 fumble return (pass failed)
2Q - HP - TD with 0:03 left before half (pass failed)
3Q - HP - Jet Tuma 5 run (kick failed)
Playoff thoughts: HP can clinch a playoff spot with a win this Friday at McKinney North, plus a Pearce win over McKinney. That is the only clinching scenario if the Scots win.
Why? Because at this point, there is no guarantee that if HP lost its final two games and finished 5-2, that it could advance through a possible multi-team tie at 5-2 with any combination of teams and McKinney. If Pearce beats McKinney, HP would own tiebreaking wins over every other team that could finish at 5-2, and McKinney would then have three losses.
The Scots cannot mathemetically clinch a playoff spot with a loss because at 4-1 there are too many multi-team tiebreaker possibilities to guarantee HP would advance through them.
Should they reach the playoffs, HP will play in the Division II bracket. Wylie East's loss last Friday guaranteed that it would not make the playoffs, so HP now has the second-lowest enrollment among the teams still contending for playoff spots.
* More on the playoffs - The postseason is still three long weeks away, but based on the current standings in Region II-4A, here is how the Division II first-round playoff pairings would look if the playoffs began this week. Tiebrekers were broken using only overall records. This list is only to display contending teams, not firm matchups, and is certain to change.
Frisco Liberty (4-0, 7-0) vs. McKinney North (3-1, 5-2)
Seagoville (4-0, 6-1) vs. Lincoln (1-2, 2-5)
Sulphur Springs (3-1, 6-2) vs. Jacksonville (3-1, 5-2)
Corsicana (4-2, 5-3) vs. Bryan Rudder (2-1, 6-1)
Frisco Wakeland (4-0, 6-1) vs. HP (4-0, 7-0)
Pinkston (2-2, 4-3) vs. Hillcrest (4-0, 5-2)
Mount Pleasant (1-2, 1-6) vs. Whitehouse (3-1, 5-2)
Mesquite Poteet (4-2, 6-2) vs. Hutto (3-1, 7-1)
* HP is now 11-4 all-time against Richardson Pearce. The Scots and the Mustangs have been in the same district every year but two since 2000. HP is 8-1 against Pearce during that time. The Scots and Mustangs have played 15 times, which is the 13th-longest series in HP's history and the longest current series at five years. The HP-Rockwall-Heath series will also be at five straight years when they meet in two weeks. HP and Sherman is the longest all-time series with 47 games played.
* HP has now won 61 consecutive games at Highlander Stadium, a streak dating back to the 1998 season. The Scots lost consecutive games at Highlander in midseason of 1998, won the last two at home that season, and have won 59 straight since. HP has one home game remaining in the regular season.
* The Scots' 14-game win streak in regular-season games is tied for the seventh-longest in school history. The school record is 47 in a row from 2004-08. Two more wins will tie the 1992-94 streak at 16. The 14-game unbeaten streak ties four other such streaks for the eighth-longest in school history.
* Jake Howeth has taken over the Scots' ground attack. The senior quarterback had 18 rushing attempts in consecutive games for HP, gaining 190 yards and five touchdowns. He also had 20 attempts against Everman, and 19 against Sherman. For the season, Howeth is averaging 14 carries per game with 545 rushing yards and a 5.56 per-cary average with 14 touchdowns. Preston Miller is next with 482 rushing yards with a 6.60 average with three touchdowns.
HP escaped with another narrow victory Friday night, prompted by a defense that continued to come up with key plays and a special teams unit that made several big plays in a 35-28 win over Richardson Pearce.
You can argue whether the Scots' fifth win by a touchdown or less this season is good news or bad news, but there's no arguing that HP is toughest down the stretch whether ahead (see games against Rockwall and Richardson Pearce) or behind (see games against Everman and Sherman).
Nothing is coming easy for the Scots right now, except perhaps a playoff berth as early as next week. The big picture says HP is still undefeated at 7-0, 4-0 in District 10-4A with a chance to clinch a spot in the postseason with a win next week at second-place McKinney North (5-2, 3-1). Wylie East's loss on Friday guarantees that HP, should it make the playoffs, will play in the Class 4A Division II bracket.
The rest of the details in the picture as still being hashed out by a Scots defense that has now put two of its top offensive players into the secondary, which allows for its never-say-quit defensive line to make more plays. Two key sacks allowed time to run out on Pearce's final drive, which crossed midfield in the final 30 seconds but stalled at the HP 35.
The defense gave up close to 500 total yards again, but kept the Mustangs (3-4, 2-2) away from the end zone when it had to. HP defensive coordinator Mark Howeth has said for years the only numbers he's concerned with is what's on the scoreboard. So for a defense that has given up 28, 21 and 12 points the past three weeks, that's good enough.
Especially for an HP offense that regularly puts up 30 points a game.
The Scots used their run-pass mix of senior quarterback Jake Howeth (88 yards on the ground with two touchdowns) and junior quarterback Brady Burgin (150 passing yards with a touchdown) to keep Pearce off-balance.
It was a playoff-like atmosphere at Homecoming at Highlander Stadium on Friday. The Scots, who will make the postseason, passed the test as they have in the previous nail-biters this season. There's work still to be done, and HP has not played its best game yet. They can all but seal up another district championship next week.
And for now, that's good enough.
ScotSports.com will have more on the HP-Pearce game later.