In a battle of offensive juggernauts, Denton Ryan blinked first and could never catch up as the Highland Park Scots earned a shot at a second straight Class 5A Division I state championship with a 45-35 win over the Raiders late Friday at AT&T Stadium.
The defending champion Scots (14-1) will meet undefeated Manvel, a 35-10 winner over Angleton, on Friday at 7 p.m. on the same field.
Highland Park played an almost perfect game, rolling up 533 yards and scoring at the end of all but three long drives.
Holding a 10-point lead, the Scots clinched the game by burning the final 8:09 off the clock, marching 75 yards in 18 plays before taking a knee at the Ryan 20-yard line.
“They made the plays when they had to,” Raiders coach Ryan Henigan said afterwards. “Their quarterback is a great player, and he kept extending plays when we thought we had him.”
Highland Park quarterback John Stephen Jones — the grandson of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and son of team vice president Stephen Jones — put on a show, continually scrambling out of trouble and finding open receivers among the Raiders secondary. He finished 25-of-36 passing for 381 yards and five touchdowns.
Raiders quarterback Spencer Sanders, who tore the ACL in his right knee in last year’s 31-24 semifinal loss to the Scots, made up for it Friday with 415 total yards (159 rushing, 256 passing) and five touchdowns — including an 80-yard scamper for Ryan’s final score.
After six consecutive scoring drives to open the game, the Scots finally forced a Ryan punt with 2:59 left in the first half. Ten plays later, Highland Park went on top for the first time, taking a 28-21 advantage into intermission.
The Scots then cashed in on two more scoring opportunities to open the third quarter, and the Raiders had to play catchup the rest of the night.
“I can’t be any more proud of these seniors,” Henigan said. “They’ve lost just three games in the last three years. They have nothing to be ashamed of.”