Dean, Wildcats Run Past HP in 7-6A Opener

Lake Highlands delivered its opening statement on the first snap of the game against Highland Park. Nineteen hours later, the Wildcats made their closing argument.

The verdict was a 51-41 victory in the District 7-6A opener at Wildcat-Ram Stadium that ended HP’s 21-game regular-season winning streak. It also handed the Scots their first defeat in district play since 2016, and it puts HP’s goal of a ninth consecutive league crown in jeopardy with seven games still to play.

The game was delayed by more than 90 minutes at halftime on Friday night due to lightning. Then another stoppage postponed the final 8.5 minutes until Saturday afternoon.

But the Wildcats had momentum throughout, due mostly to running back Deonte Dean, who proved an unstoppable nemesis for the HP defense. He finished with 376 yards and four touchdowns as Lake Highlands led throughout.

The Wildcats (2-1, 1-0) racked up 616 yards of total offense and scored six touchdowns on plays of 45 yards or longer. That included a 75-yard strike from Tripp Holley to Miron Magee on the first play of the game.

“They didn’t make any mistakes and they were on target. Dean was running the ball extremely well. We needed to shut them down, and they were able to control it,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “It’s hard to stop them when they’ve got a great running back and their quarterback was throwing the way he did, and they’ve got a big offensive line.”

Senior quarterback Warren Peck kept the Scots (2-1, 0-1) within striking distance with his running ability. He tallied 201 yards and five touchdowns, four of which came after halftime, as HP turned to its ground game and short passing game to spark a rally. But it seemed like every time the Scots had an opportunity to turn the tide, the Wildcats answered.

After a hard-fought nondistrict victory over Lewisville a week ago, perhaps the Scots didn’t carry that energy and emotion over. Now, HP must refocus prior to a home matchup with winless Irving on Sept. 15.

“We had a hard time getting up emotionally,” Allen said. “Champions don’t get beat often, but when they do, they can’t wait to get back on the field and make amends and set the record straight. Our goal is to get a big win against Irving and get momentum again.”

HP struggled to get in sync offensively, despite answering the initial Lake Highlands score with a touchdown of their own on an 11-yard scamper by Keller Holmes.

Two plays later, however, Dean rumbled for a 68-yard score using a combination of speed and elusiveness that enabled him to average more than 12 yards on his 31 carries.

The Scots turned the ball over for the first time this season midway through the first quarter when Wildcats lineman Michael Odelami pounced on a fumble at the Lake Highlands 39-yard line. Dean followed with a short scoring plunge.

Less than four minutes into the second quarter, Lake Highlands stretched the margin to 30-7 on another big play — a 54-yard connection between Holley and Tripp Marshall, who had another long touchdown catch in the second half.

The Scots couldn’t close the gap despite accumulating 324 rushing yards as a team. Holmes had 94 yards on 13 carries.

Lake Highlands showed its power along the line of scrimmage, with its offensive line opening holes for Dean and its defensive front forcing Peck several times to scramble or be sacked.

HP converted 5-of-8 on fourth down but couldn’t find consistency in the passing game. The Scots had just 55 yards through the air in the first three quarters. Peck completed 13 of 31 throws overall.

“They kept him moving around so he couldn’t sit in the pocket and look down the field,” Allen said. “They did a good job, but Warren made some huge plays for us to keep us in the game. I’m proud of how far he’s come.”

Holley finished 11-of-20 through the air for 227 yards and three touchdowns. Marshall grabbed a game-high five passes for 129 yards.

It was a signature win three games into the tenure of Lake Highlands head coach Cory Campbell, who took over this year when former coach Lonnie Jordan left to became the HP athletic director.

PHOTOS: Chris McGathey and Melissa Macatee

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