Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Highland Park clips Rockwall-Heath in OT after bad PAT
Deflected PAT in OT is all that separates 10-4A rivals as Highland Park wins
ROCKWALL — Highland Park’s flashy offense and Rockwall-Heath’s smashing defense played to a draw Friday night at Wilkerson-Sanders Stadium. It showed in the play that finally separated the two top teams in District 10-4A.
A missed extra point in overtime.
Rockwall-Heath missed its attempt and Highland Park made its kick, clinching the Scots’ 31-30 victory in the matchup of unbeatens.
Rockwall-Heath (8-1, 5-1), which had rallied to tie the score at 24-24 at the end of regulation, took a 30-24 lead in overtime with an 11-yard touchdown run by Rico Henderson. But Ethan Smith’s extra point appeared to get deflected at the line and bounced off the left upright, giving Highland Park (9-0, 6-0) the chance to win the game.
Highland Park, the No. 2 team in SportsDay’s 4A area rankings, quickly got a first-and-goal with a 20-yard pass from Brady Burgin to Preston Miller. But Rockwall-Heath’s defense got tough as Miller, taking the snap out of the wildcat formation, tried to slam into the end zone on three straight plays.
He could get only to the 1. On fourth down, he faked a handoff and burrowed his way into the end zone. Nick Rose added the game-winning extra point.
That kick sailed right through the uprights.
Highland Park had a great chance at the end of regulation as it drove from its own 19 to the Rockwall-Heath 35. As Rose set up for a 52-yard field goal with five seconds left, Rockwall-Heath jumped offside to shorten the attempt to 47 yards.
But Rockwall-Heath defensive lineman Jay Arnold busted through the line and blocked the kick. It was the second field goal that Rockwall-Heath had blocked in the game.
Highland Park grabbed control with a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter, the first coming on a flea flicker that fooled the Rockwall-Heath defense. Burgin launched a deep pass to Hunter Halpin, who grabbed it and ran in for the 79-yard touchdown.
The second was set up by a Mark Gottsacker interception that gave Highland Park the ball at the Rockwall-Heath 12. Rockwall-Heath’s defense forced a fourth down, but it was called for a personal foul on the field goal attempt, giving Highland Park a first down. Miller scored on a 3-yard run on the next play to give the Scots a 24-10 lead with 3:48 left in the third.
Rockwall-Heath, No. 4 in the 4A area rankings, tied the game with a pair of big fourth-quarter drives. The first ended after 12 plays with a 1-yard run by Jovan Hernandez. The second touchdown came on a beautiful 42-yard rainbow pass from Cody Court to Amaris Fields.
The quarterback and receiver almost connected on another big play with two minutes left in regulation as Court dropped another long pass into Fields’ hands. Fields had it for a moment, but then it popped out and into the hands of Gottsacker for his second interception of the night.
It was the 20th straight district win for Highland Park. The last team to beat HP in district was Rockwall-Heath, which three years ago beat the Scots, 38-31, in overtime.