UNIVERSITY PARK- The Highland Park Scots (1-0) come into every season with question marks at key positions, but behind center it appears the Scots are just fine as QB Jake Howeth had a hand in all four HP scores in a hard fought 27-21 win over the Everman Bulldogs (0-1) in the first game of the Tom Landry Classic. Everman had plenty of chances to win including nearly scoring on a last ditch drive late in the game, but penalties and mistakes doomed Everman's chances.
It was Everman who took an early 6-0 lead as the Bulldogs took the game's opening kickoff and put together an impressive sixteen play eighty yard drive scoring on a one yard run by Cory Franklin. Everman's PAT was no good however and those points left on the board would haunt the Bulldogs all day. Highland Park had an answer putting together a solid drive of their own scoring on a seven yard pass from Howeth to Collin Stringer. An Everman DB had a beat on the ball but Howeth put just enough air under it to loft over the DB, the PAT was good and early in the second it was 7-6 Scots.
Everman didn't waste too much time answering jumping out to a 12-7 lead as Johnny Demar hit James Bailey for an 87 yard touchdown pass in which Bailey simply blew by an overmatched Highland Park DB. Everman went for two but the conversion failed. The Bulldogs appeared poised to go up by even more when junior LB Torrey Boozer picked off Howeth and returned it 40 yards deep into HP territory. Howeth, a former DB made the touchdown saving tackle and that would prove huge as the Bulldogs went backwards on the drive and turned it over on downs.
With just twelve seconds left in the half Highland Park would jump back out to lead as Howeth and Stringer hooked up from six yards out making it 13-12. The drive was kept alive with less than a minute left in the half, Howeth was stopped a yard and half short on a run on third down. It appeared HP would be forced to kick the field goal but a late hit penalty on EHS gave HP an automatic first down. The Scots would make it 15-12 on the two point try with Howeth running it in.
Everman's defense turned it up in the third quarter as their pair of junior DE's Jacob Kennedy and Lincoln Richard showed elite pass rushing skills and forced several hurried throws and a several sacks. The Bulldogs changed things up behind center going with junior Devynn Birdow and it immediately paid off with Everman moving inside the HP five, but the drive stalled and the Bulldogs settled for a 20 yard field goal by Daniel Cruz tying the game at 15.
Everman would take the lead back late in the third on a ten yard scoring run by Bailey, the key play on this march was a 35 yard run by Franklin who finished the game with 133 yards on 22 carries. The PAT was again missed and Everman's lead was 21-15. Neither team was able to do much in the early part of the fourth quarter as both defenses found some solid footing. Highland Park with six minutes left took over at their own 20 and on 3rd and 3 they appeared to be forced to punt as Howeth threw and incomplete pass at the 5:26 mark. The drive was extended however, as the Bulldogs were called for a late hit thus granting the Scots new life. Howeth a few plays later pulled some wizardry out as one two separate plays he escaped potential sacks to scramble and make some big gainers on the ground. The Scots would make it 21-21 at the 3:38 mark on a five yard run. The PAT was missed by HP thus leaving the score tied.
The Bulldogs offense would get the ball back with little more than three minutes left, but three consecutive pre-snap penalties sent Everman back to their five yard line. On second down, Franklin appeared to have a solid gainer up the middle but a fumble was recovered by Highland Park's Brant Green at the Everman ten. With one minute remaining a stunning turn of events put HP up 27-21 as Howeth got his second rushing score of the day from two yards out.
Everman went on one final drive as Bailey caught a long pass and two pass interference calls gave the Bulldogs a shot from the 21. It appeared Bailey with twelve seconds left made a spectacular catch in the end zone where he may have had a foot in, but the officials called him out of bounds and the potential game winning score was simply an incomplete pass. On the game's final play Birdow's heave was incomplete and HP escaped Ford Stadium with a 27-21 victory.