Scots Clip Eagles, Clinch Playoff Spot

RICHARDSON — Offensive versatility and defensive improvement are two reasons why Highland Park again clinched a top seed in the Class 6A Division II playoff bracket.

Both were on display during a 34-15 victory over Richardson on Thursday that secured the postseason destiny for the Scots in their final road game of the season.

They will again be the No. 1 Division II seed from District 7-6A in Region I, and will likely host either Arlington or Arlington Lamar in the first round on Nov. 10. Jesuit Dallas has clinched the second spot, just like a year ago.

Before postseason play begins, however, HP will carry a six-game winning streak into next week’s regular-season finale against Richardson Pearce, when the Scots can claim at least a share of the district title.

Reserve quarterback Parker Thompson rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns on consecutive drives early in the second quarter for the Scots (8-1, 6-1). The second score, from 17 yards out, followed a 38-yard scamper on fourth-and-1.

Thompson, who is verbally committed to Air Force, became the focal point of the offense following starter Warren Peck’s departure from the game after hitting his head on the turf on a scramble with 11:46 left before halftime.

The quarterback switch meant HP’s offense became even more run-focused, but no less prolific in extending an early lead. On the game’s opening possession, Steel Tobin scored on a 43-yard jet-sweep pass from Peck.

Outside of that play — which was essentially a run but statistically counts as a pass — HP had just nine completions and 90 yards through the air.

“We just need a week with [Thompson] at quarterback where he’s throwing the football and making his reads and getting comfortable,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “Warren was having a great game before he got hurt. We hope he’s OK and we can get him back soon.”

Tobin returned from an injury against the Eagles but top running back Wilson Axley remains sidelined, and now HP might have to play without Peck, too, depending on the severity of his potential concussion symptoms.

While the Scots made adjustments on offense, the defense forced two turnovers and otherwise held Richardson in check. Jack McCallum returned an interception 65 yards to the end zone to open the second half for HP’s first defensive touchdown of the season.

“The score on the interception was big,” Allen said. “Our defense did a great job all night of holding those guys. We seem to be getting better on defense each week.”

Plus, the Scots were able to take advantage of favorable field position for most of the game thanks to some penalties and special-teams miscues by the Eagles (4-5, 3-4).

Nicholas Rigas connected on two field goals for HP in the first half, the second coming after a fumble recovery in Richardson territory.

Cole Cage tossed two scoring passes for the Eagles — to Hudson Harder in the second quarter and Evan Tabora in the fourth. Donovan Ford ran for a game-high 150 yards for Richardson, which was eliminated from playoff contention.

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