Written by Michael Florek
Tears of joy, grief: Frisco's late TD stuns Highland Park, 21-20, in 4A bidistrict playoffs
DENTON — It was just a simple throw, Frisco quarterback Jake Battaglia to running back Max Steitle in the flat, but it was so much more. It was the play that led to Frisco receiver Drake Hardy crying tears of joy and Steitle doing cartwheels at midfield after Friday night’s game.
It was the play that turned into the winning touchdown, leading Frisco to a 21-20 victory over Highland Park in a Class 4A Division I bi-district playoff game at Apogee Stadium.
“People are crying, but I can’t cry because I’m so excited,” Battaglia said amid the celebration.
Frisco will play Samuell next week in the area round of the playoffs.
After falling behind, 14-0, in the first quarter, Highland Park stormed back with 20 straight points, taking its first lead of the game with just under nine minutes remaining in the fourth. A missed extra point left the margin at six.
Frisco took over at its 19-yard line and converted two fourth downs. Frisco faced a third opportunity, fourth-and-5, at the Highland Park 28-yard line with 1:32 left.
Battaglia dropped back to pass and checked down to Steitle, his running back. Steitle caught the pass with a defender on his back, broke a tackle and ran into the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown.
“We had two options, the guy on the post route or the guy out in the flat,” Frisco coach Vance Gibson said. “The quarterback made a great throw, the kid made a great catch and a great run. They made a play.”
The extra point was good. Highland Park got the ball back with 1:24 left and drove inside Frisco territory, but quarterback Jet Tuma’s deep pass was intercepted at the Frisco 6 to end the threat.
Follow Michael Florek on Twitter at @michaelflorek.