ALLEN – For three quarters, Highland Park had the defending state champions on their heels. But the fourth quarter was another story.
Denton Guyer rallied with three fourth-quarter touchdowns to surge past the Scots 22-16 in a Class 4A Division I state semifinal on Saturday at Eagle Stadium.
The loss ended the best season for HP since 2007, and snapped a 13-game winning streak that dated to August.
Guyer quarterback Jerrod Heard, who has verbally committed to the University of Texas, rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns, doing his most significant damage in the final quarter.
HP held a 10-0 lead through three quarters thanks to a defense that stifled the high-powered Guyer offense like no other team had done all season.
“We played very hard. We played typical of how we’ve been playing this whole playoffs,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “I’m very proud of this football team. They’ve come a long way. We put ourselves in a position to win going into the fourth quarter.”
The Wildcats (13-2) lost three fumbles in the first three quarters, which contributed to the deficit. But in the fourth quarter, Guyer grabbed the momentum just as the Scots (13-2) started battling fatigue.
All three Guyer possessions in the fourth quarter reached the end zone, beginning with a 79-yard drive capped by Anthony Taylor’s 23-yard touchdown run that cut the HP lead to 10-7.
Following a Scots punt, Guyer marched 62 yards, with 40 of those yards coming on the feet of Heard. His 25-yard scoring run gave Guyer its first lead at 14-10.
HP fought back on its next possession when Brooks Burgin found William Stowe on a 45-yard passing play to the Guyer 22. Stephen Dieb scored on a 1-yard run shortly afterward, allowing HP to reclaim the lead at 16-14 with 2:18 remaining.
After Guyer took over again, Heard was sensational. He ran on five of the next eight plays for the Wildcats, including a 1-yard touchdown scamper with 55 seconds left to put Guyer ahead 22-16. HP had a final opportunity, but could not cross midfield.
“They wore our defense down. They’re a very physical football team,” Allen said. “As we wore down, [Heard] began to take over. He’s faster than us, so when he broke out, we had a hard time corralling him.”
The game was a defensive struggle from the outset, with the Scots striking first on a 23-yard field goal by Will Sanders early in the second quarter. The score was set up by two consecutive personal foul penalties on the Wildcats.
On the ensuing kickoff, Carl Bonano recovered a fumble for the Scots, setting up HP at the Guyer 21-yard line. Five plays later, Cole Feigl plunged into the end zone from 4 yards out to extend the lead to 10-0.
Feigl finished with 32 yards on 15 carries, but as a team, HP was limited to two rushing yards in the second half and just 47 for the game.
Later in the second quarter, Guyer’s Demontrie Taylor intercepted a pass to stop an HP drive at the Guyer 30. But the Wildcats turned the ball back over on their next possession when Boomer Bakich recovered a fumble near midfield.
In the third quarter, HP squandered its best scoring opportunity when Burgin was sacked for a 13-yard loss on third-and-9 from the Guyer 19. However, Guyer again failed to capitalize when Mitchell Kaufman recovered a fumble by the Wildcats.
Burgin completed 15 of 36 passes for 190 yards, while Kevin Ken was his top target with five receptions for 51 yards.
It was the lowest offensive output for the Scots since a 44-3 loss to Aledo in the season opener, which also was played in Allen.