Scots Roll Past Pearce, Share 7-6A Title

Highland Park accomplished another significant goal on Friday while keeping its momentum rolling into the upcoming playoffs.

The Scots earned a share of the District 7-6A title with a 45-20 dismantling of Richardson Pearce in the regular-season finale at Highlander Stadium. HP has at least split a league championship in each of the past nine seasons.

The Scots (9-1, 7-1) will carry a seven-game winning streak into a Class 6A Division II Region I bi-district playoff matchup against Arlington, which will be hosted by HP on Nov. 10.

“We hope we’re just starting,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “We finished strong and played some of our best football toward the end of the season. We refocused after the Lake Highlands game [a 51-41 loss on Sept. 8] and we’ve been trying to improve every week.”

Parker Thompson rushed for 147 yards and also tossed two touchdown passes in his first career start. Thompson, who is verbally committed to Air Force, was filling in for injured quarterback Warren Peck. Thompson also is slated to start the postseason opener next week.

He certainly kept the HP offense chugging against the Mustangs (6-4, 4-4), who were eliminated from playoff contention a week ago. The Scots again relied primarily on a potent ground game to reach the end zone on six of their first seven possessions. They led 35-7 at halftime.

Wilson Axley accounted for 119 yards of total offense, tallying one rushing touchdown and a receiving score. Keller Holmes also ran for three touchdowns.

It was difficult for either offense to sustain much rhythm given the volume of penalties. Both teams combined for 32 infractions covering 279 yards. Pearce had four unsportsmanlike conduct fouls in the second half.

Thompson averaged more than 12 yards on each of his 12 rushing attempts, which were a combination of designed runs and scrambles.

“We tried to adapt the offense to what Parker can do best, and tried to get him comfortable,” Allen said. “Once he settled down, he did a great job. We knew he could run the ball, but he’s also an accurate thrower.”

After the teams traded early scores, HP took the lead for good after a deflected punt set up a 5-yard touchdown plunge by Holmes late in the first quarter.

On the next Pearce drive, Anders Corn recovered a fumble near midfield, and the Scots capitalized with another Holmes score. Less than two minutes later, following Corn’s sack on fourth down, Thompson found a wide-open Axley for a 61-yard touchdown strike.

The Mustangs used 14 plays on their next possession to penetrate inside the HP 10 before Jack McCallum intercepted a pass on fourth down.

HP again took advantage, driving 98 yards in about 90 seconds before Thompson hooked up with Canon Spackman on a short scoring pass shortly before halftime.

Pearce opened the second half with its best possession of the game, another 14-play effort that culminated with a Presley Harper quarterback sneak.

Harper threw for 327 yards and scored twice on the ground for the Mustangs, who had a remarkably high number of third-down conversions but struggled to turn those into points.

“There were some things we didn’t execute very well,” said Pearce head coach Jarrett Lambert. “They have a heck of a team and they’re going to do well in the playoffs.”

The final tally for the Mustangs came on a fourth-quarter halfback pass from Noah Self to Jack McGarry, who finished with a game-high 136 receiving yards on nine catches. Pearce’s Jewlyen Roberts added nine grabs for 91 yards.

PHOTOS: Melissa Macatee

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