WAXAHACHIE — In the end, Waxahachie had too many playmakers who made too many big plays.
Jalen Reagor caught three touchdown passes in the second half, including the game-winner with 19 seconds left, as Waxahachie rallied past Highland Park 40-37 on Friday at Lumpkins Stadium.
The Scots led almost throughout the game — including by 17 points in the first half — but couldn’t hang on late, and ultimately couldn’t sustain the momentum from a season-opening victory over Rockwall. Five of Waxahachie’s six touchdowns came on plays of 48 yards or more.
Reagor, who has verbally committed to Oklahoma, made several big receptions down the stretch despite suffering from apparent leg cramps, including one on fourth-and-six to sustain the final possession near midfield. The winning score was a leaping catch in the back of the end zone on a 6-yard toss from Bryce Salik.
Moments earlier, Kenedy Snell scored his second touchdown of the game on a 48-yard run, exemplifying the athleticism that allowed the Indians to overcome some key mistakes.
“They’re as good as any two players I’ve ever played against,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “It seemed like every time they threw it up, they were behind us, and if a ball was thrown well, they were going to score. We were doing the best we could to cover them. They played a great game.”
The Scots (1-1) looked to be in good shape after Paxton Alexander gave HP a 37-27 lead on a 2-yard run with 9:31 remaining, but they couldn’t score again.
Earlier, the Indians (2-0) showed their explosiveness on their first offensive play, when Snell — a TCU commit — took a screen pass and sprinted past the HP defense for a 90-yard score.
However, the Scots found their rhythm after that, due in part to consistently favorable field position. Scully Jenevein gave HP a 9-6 lead early in the second quarter when he caught a 14-yard strike from John Stephen Jones. An interception by O’Neill Sitzer led to another touchdown on a 3-yard run by Jacob Urbanczyk.
On the next HP possession, the Scots used some trickery to extend their lead. Backup quarterback Michael Clarke was lined up as a receiver, took a backward pass from Jones, and found a wide-open Jack Kozmetsky for a 74-yard touchdown. Suddenly, HP had a 23-6 lead after scoring 23 consecutive points.
Then the sputtering Waxahachie offense found its footing after a series of bad snaps and special-teams miscues. On the ensuing play, Eris Miles rambled 63 yards for a score.
“We needed to distance ourselves more. Anytime you leave a team like that close to you, they’re going to make a big play,” Allen said. “We’ve got to be good enough where that doesn’t happen to us.”
The HP defense opened the second half by forcing a turnover when Matt Gahm intercepted a pass on the opening possession and returned it to the Waxahachie 5-yard line. Yet the Scots failed to capitalize and came away empty.
Waxahachie responded when Reagor scored in spectacular fashion, zigzagging through defenders after catching a short pass and finishing with a 73-yard touchdown.
HP kept the lead on its next drive when Urbanczyk scored for the second time on a 1-yard plunge. Then the Indians bounced back again on a 54-yard bomb from Salik to Reagor.
Waxahachie was within a single possession at 37-33 when it forced an HP punt with 1:52 remaining. The Indians took over at their own 40 with no timeouts and essentially put the game in the hands of Salik and Reagor.
“It’s fun to watch,” said Waxahachie head coach Jon Kitna. “Big-time players need to make big-time plays sometimes, and they made them tonight.”
Reagor finished with 205 yards on eight receptions. Snell tallied 141 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. Salik passed for 320 yards and four scores.
For the Scots, Jones couldn’t match the numbers from his sparkling debut against Rockwall. After completing just two of his first 10 throws, he finished 12 of 27 for 162 yards. Urbanczyk rushed for a team-high 68 yards along with his two scores.
HP will return home next week to face Mansfield Timberview in its final game before the start of District 15-5A play on Sept. 16.