For all the hype surrounding Jerrod Heard this season, the Denton Guyer quarterback wanted to be clear about one thing Saturday afternoon.
The Wildcats’ defense helped send Guyer to the state title game.
After holding Highland Park scoreless for much of the second half at Eagle Stadium, Heard rallied Guyer’s offense with two touchdown runs in a 22-16 state semifinal victory over the Scots.
Guyer (13-2) will face Northside Brennan (15-0) in the Class 4A Division I state title game at 8 p.m. Friday at AT&T Stadium.
“That’s the way it’s been all season for our defense,” Heard said. “We really haven’t been tested that many times, but every time we are, the defense keeps us in the game.”
Holding the Scots (13-2) to only one first down in a stretch of three critical second-half series allowed Heard to finally get Guyer’s offense revved up.
The Wildcats scored all 22 points in the fourth quarter, including Heard’s game-winning 2-yard run with 55 seconds remaining in the game.
Highland Park held Guyer scoreless through three quarters before Heard engineered a five-play, 69-yard drive. Running back Anthony Taylor capped the drive with a 23-yard scoring run.
Three consecutive incomplete passes forced another Scots punt after that, and Heard led an eight-play, 62-yard drive during which he turned a busted play into a 24-yard score and a 14-10 lead.
Guyer had three lost fumbles in the game, but Highland Park capitalized only once, early in the second quarter.
“I never thought it was slipping away, but we had to clean it up, and we were hurting ourselves,” Denton Guyer coach John Walsh said. “I’ve been saying all year long that we had a state championship-caliber defense that we could lean on. We just hadn’t had to do it until today.”
After starting the game an ice-cold 1-for-8 passing, Highland Park quarterback Brooks Burgin settled in to finish with 15 completions for 190 yards.
Heard led Guyer with 154 yards rushing and completed 11 passes for 147 yard.