Highland Park holds off Prosper 35-28 in Southwest Showcase at AT&T Stadium

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ARLINGTON — Football is as always played until the last whistle, and is a game of inches. The Highland Park Scots got a taste of those facts on Saturday when it held off Prosper 35-28 at AT&T Stadium Saturday.

A duo of Eagles gave the Scots’ defense some early trouble. Quarterback Ryan Davis and running back Robert Mahone — a Boise State verbal commit — marched 93 yards down the field to score. Mahone ran it up the middle unscathed with 1:17 left in the first quarter.

After Mahone’s score, the Scots responded rather quickly on offense, and then found a way to shut down Prosper’s option running attack.

The Scots are known for its quick-tempo offense, and it was on full display Saturday. Henry Allen tossed three touchdowns to three different receivers; all of which took fewer than five plays to score.

“Prosper played a great game coming in,” Highland Park coach Randy Allen said. “They were 2-0, and early on they just had their way with us with their running game, moving the ball up and down the field.”

Just before the half, Prosper’s Kaleb Adams took a slip screen 45 yards, rushed for 14 yards down to the Scots’ 20-yard line, then the Eagles had bad clock management, and failed to spike the ball in time before the half expired.

The Scots had what seemed like a comfortable 21-6 lead at halftime, but Prosper had other plans.

After a Highland Park turned it over on downs to open the second half, Prosper punted on the ensuing possession. The Scots ran the ball with Allen and its running back Stephen Dieb. Dieb capped off a nine-play, 72-yard drive, with a one-yard punch up the middle to extend its lead, 28-6, with 4:23 left in the third quarter.

“We decided we were going to try and control the clock with our running game after we excelled in our passing attack the first half,” Dieb said.

Prosper responded to the Scots’ late score in the third quarter with a touchdown drive to start the fourth quarter. On fourth and three at Highland Park’s 11-yard line, Davis found Mahone through the air for the score to cut the Scots’ lead, 28-13.

The following possession, Allen threw a lofty pass that was intercepted by Prosper’s Douglas Cueva. Four plays later, Mahone found the end zone once again, but the Eagles still trailed 28-21 with 6:49 left in the game.

Highland Park would score on a nine-play, 74-yard touchdown drive, capped off by Dieb’s second touchdown run of the game from four yards out. The Scots led 35-21 with 2:40 left in the game.

The Eagles struggled on the next possession, facing a 4th and 10 on its own 22-yard line. However, Davis felt a big play needed to happen to keep the Eagles close. Davis tossed a deep ball over the top of two Scot defenders, while his target, Bayley Mack, made a difficult over-the-shoulder grab, and ran it in for the 78-yard catch and score.

Prosper would elect to onside kick, but failed in doing so. The Scots were pushed back five yards after Dieb was stuffed at the line of scrimmage. The Eagles called the first of its two timeouts with 2:00 remaining. Allen would rush for two yards to face a 3rd and 13 on his own 44. Prosper called its last timeout with 1:53 to go. Allen would complete a pass to his leading wide receiver, Chris Buell, for what looked like a first down. The chains would be brought out and it measured 4th and an inch.

The Scots called its last timeout after attempting a hard count against the Eagles’ defensive front. Coach Allen would call his quarterback’s number, and he would get the first down.

“There was a little bit of question as who would run the ball up the middle for the first down when we had 4th and inches, but I’m just glad we got it,” Dieb said after the dogfight. “Everybody played hard, and our motto this week was, ‘Saturday is coming’ so everybody was looking forward to it and we played physical football within the white lines today.”

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