ALLEN — Too many mistakes and missed opportunities led to the premature conclusion of Highland Park’s football season on Friday.
Frisco Wakeland scored a touchdown and two-point conversion in the final minute to stun the Scots 29-28 in a Class 5A Division I area round thriller.
HP’s 10-game winning streak ended with its earliest postseason exit since the 2015 season, when the Scots were in the 6A classification.
“Our guys played their hearts out,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “It hurts so badly. We thought we were going win, and then it gets taken away at the end. That’s a hard way to go.”
HP was poised to win the seesaw affair after taking a 28-21 lead on Ben Croasdale’s 19-yard run with 1:23 remaining.
But with the game — and their season — on the line, the Wolverines responded with a 75-yard drive in under a minute. Jared White connected with Tripp Riordan on a trick play for a 6-yard score. After his only pass of the game, White’s subsequent two-point conversion run gave Wakeland the lead.
“We have one of the best running backs in the state, so we put it on his back. I trusted our offensive line and we went for it,” said Marty Secord, the only head coach in Wakeland’s 16-year history. “I’m proud of our whole team. This was a great win for us.”
With under 30 seconds and one timeout, the Scots advanced to midfield before Michael Flanagan’s diving interception sealed the upset for the Wolverines (9-2). It was HP’s fourth turnover.
The final flurry culminated a frustrating offensive night for the Scots (10-2), who came away empty-handed on three of their first four trips into the red zone, squandering scoring chances with two fumbles and a missed field goal.
“When you miss some opportunities early in the game and it gets close, they get a little momentum, and then it’s a dogfight,” Allen said. “We gave them a little too much time on the clock, and they took advantage.”
Earlier, the Scots reached the end zone on their opening drive. A 39-yard connection between Brennan Storer and John Rutledge led to a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Christian Reeves.
After a short punt by Wakeland, HP drove inside the 10-yard line before losing a fumble. The ensuing 93-yard drive put the Wolverines on the board, capped by a 7-yard run by White.
Wakeland finally broke the deadlock midway through the third quarter when White scampered into the end zone from 48 yards out.
HP responded with perhaps its best drive of the game, covering 12 plays and culminating in a 1-yard rush by Storer to knot the score at 14.
With momentum on their side following a three-and-out by the Wolverines, the Scots again failed to capitalize. Wakeland’s Colin Peek picked off a pass near midfield on the final play of the third quarter.
Three snaps later, Brennan Myer hooked up with Davion Woolen on a 41-yard touchdown pass. HP answered with another lengthy drive and a short Storer scoring run, tying the score at 21 and setting up the nail-biting finish.
HP’s go-ahead score was set up by Preston Taylor’s second interception of the game at the Scots 38-yard line with 2:38 remaining.
Storer found John Rutledge for 24 yards and Luke Rossley for 12. Then came back-to-back carries for Croasdale, the second of which saw him break free to give HP a 28-21 advantage.
However, the Wolverines had the final say. The final possession included a fourth-down conversion inside Wakeland territory, followed by a 50-yard leaping reception by Woolen on the next play.
“Wakeland played a great game and made some big plays,” Allen said. “They had a good plan and executed well. They made one more play than we made.”
Storer was 18-of-29 passing for 274 yards in addition to his two rushing touchdowns. Croasdale and Reeves combined for 99 yards on the ground. Rutledge, one of several HP seniors playing his final game, paced HP’s receivers with four catches for 79 yards.
Besides the two interceptions by Taylor, Jack Curtis led a steady defensive performance by the Scots with two sacks.
White finished with a game-high 112 rushing yards on 13 carries with two scores, and that doesn’t include his pivotal two-point conversion. Myer connected on 18 of 30 throws for 242 yards. Woolen caught three passes for 98 yards, while Ashdyn Kahouch tallied nine receptions for 91.
HP wrapped up its ninth consecutive season of double-digit victories — establishing a new school record — with a 10-game winning streak sandwiched between bookend losses.
Now the Scots will await a new round of UIL realignment in early February, which will give them a new set of opponents next season as they look to extend a string of seven consecutive district championships.
That might help to alleviate some of the sting from Friday’s heartbreaking defeat, which leaves HP without a game after Thanksgiving for the first time in six years.