UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas — Highland Park High School opened the Region II Semifinals with a 3-play scoring drive and never took its foot off the pedal.
Two defensive interceptions and 31 points in the first quarter had Highland Park rolling early and allowed the Scots to walk out with a 52-20 victory against Mansfield Summit on Friday night at Gerald J. Ford Stadium.
Not bad for the defending champs.
Highland Park, though, let the Jaguars linger around for a short period as the opening quarter saw the two squads back-and-forth on their first two drives of the game. With both teams responding to the opposing offensive challenges, Highland Park held a slim lead following a missed extra point with the scoreboard reading 14-13 at the 6:14 mark.
The game soon became a one-sided affair as Highland Park upped the ante on their aerial onslaught.
The Scots offense led by their tried-and-true quarterback John Stephen Jones, continued his already impressive performance of the night following a 30-yard field goal by Matteo Cordray that increased their lead to 17-13.
With already two passing touchdowns up to that point, Jones would toss two more by the time the first quarter ended with Finn Corwin and Cade Saustad being the recipients of a 24-yard and 14-yard touchdown pass, respectively.
The Scots looked to have a major concern as Jones was knocked out the game momentarily after receiving a hit on an option pitch that had sophomore Chandler Morris come in for a few plays. Jones would go back in the next series however and shake off the cobwebs to finish the night with 409 passing yards.
Saustad also had a brief scare on his first touchdown reception after his momentum carried him into the brick wall and show the taxing effort the win took from a physical standpoint against and already formidable opponent.
“Summit is a tough football team and they hit hard and I knew that by watching them play and that’s the way they play in that district,” claimed Highland Park head coach Randy Allen. “Credit to Mansfield Summit, they came to play and they played hard and we were doing the best we could do but they put up a stiff test there right before the half.”
The offense scored on their first five possessions of the game that led to Highland Park holding a 31-13 lead at the end of the first quarter before the Summit defense stiffened up to keep the score the same heading into halftime.
Regarded as one of the more complete teams in the state, the defense held a share in the dominant first quarter performance as they forced two takeaways in the form of two interceptions.
The Scots defense finished the night with four takeaways and left Mansfield Summit looking every which way to try and keep up with the defending state champions.
Mansfield Summit got the second half off on the right foot thanks to a 5-play scoring drive capped off another Brysen McKinney run that narrowed the deficit to 31-20 but Highland Park would rattle off 21 more points to seal Highland Park advancing to the next round.
Highland Park is set to play Mansfield Lake Ridge next Friday at AT&T Stadium.
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