FRISCO — It was supposed to be a step up in competition, but that didn’t matter to Highland Park on Friday in the area round of the Class 5A Region II playoffs.
The Scots shut down one of the top offenses in the Dallas area and rolled to a 45-3 win over Frisco Independence at the Ford Center at The Star.
So HP has outscored its first two postseason opponents by a combined 115-5. That sounds like a team that’s peaking at the right time.
The Scots (10-2) advance to meet Mansfield Lake Ridge (8-4), a 5A state finalist last season, on Nov. 25, again at The Star. The kickoff time hasn’t yet been determined. The Eagles outlasted Samuell on Friday in their second-round game.
HP will carry plenty of momentum into that regional quarterfinal matchup after completely dismantling Independence and bottling up Dom Williams, who rushed for more than 2,000 yards during the season and has verbally committed to Kansas.
The HP defense limited the Knights (9-3) to only 148 total yards, which amounted to about 2.3 yards per offensive snap, and scored a safety on a bad snap. Independence had just 36 rushing yards.
While the Scots clogged up the running lanes, they tackled well on the edges and applied pressure to Independence quarterback Kyle Saddler to slow down the passing game.
“They played tremendous,” said HP head coach Randy Allen about his team’s defense. “Our guys played hard and we had a good plan for them. We just kept them bottled up and didn’t give them a big play, and made good tackles.”
On offense, HP was just as sharp. Junior quarterback John Stephen Jones completed 11 of 15 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns, two of which went to J.T. Dooley. He was 10-for-11 before halftime, when the Scots built up a 24-3 advantage.
“He made some really good throws,” Allen said of Jones. “Those vertical balls for touchdowns were really big.”
Independence capitalized on an early Parker Buhler fumble recovery to score first, following a 15-play drive that covered just 29 yards and ended with a 34-yard field goal by Justin Houston. The Knights converted three fourth-down attempts on the opening possession.
The Scots followed with 45 unanswered points, taking advantage of favorable field position for much of the game. A 32-yard strike from Jones to Dooley put HP in front 7-3, and Jones found Jack Toohey in the end zone from 21 yards out on the next drive.
After the safety, Jack Kozmetsky scored on a 10-yard run to cap a key sequence. Kozmetsky rushed for 80 yards and two scores. His second touchdown came in the third quarter on an 8-yard scamper.
HP added two more scores in the fourth quarter, on a 17-yard pass from Jones to Dooley and a 48-yard run by Paxton Alexander.
After the early miscue, the Scots executed almost flawlessly. They even pinned two punts inside the Independence 2-yard line and didn’t commit any penalties in the game.
The Knights averaged more than 46 points per game and won their first playoff game in program history a week ago, but they couldn’t get anything generated against HP.
Williams, a transfer from Parish Episcopal, was limited to 71 yards of total offense — 36 yards on 14 carries and 35 yards on nine receptions. Saddler didn’t fare much better, completing 22 of 39 passes for 112 yards for an average of less than 3 yards per attempt.