High School Football

Highland Park knocks out Denton Ryan in state semifinal for third-straight season

Highland Park and Denton Ryan: Episode 3.

The Class 5A Division I state semifinal rematch pitting the No. 2 and 3 ranked teams in the state was exactly what everyone was waiting for on Saturday.

Only this one felt like a Seinfeld re-run with the game getting out of hand quickly, unlike the previous two.

Quarterback Chandler Morris accounted for all six touchdowns as the two-time defending 5A state champion Scots dominated the Raiders, knocking them out for the third-straight season, 43-21, at AT&T Stadium.

Highland Park (15-0) extends its winning streak to 30 games and will return to Arlington next Saturday at 11 a.m., looking for a three-peat, when it plays the winner of No. 8 Alvin Shadow Creek and No. 10 San Antonio Wagner.

“It means a lot. This is the goal,” said Highland Park WR Bennett Brown, who caught three TDs. “Growing up watching Scots football you always want to be the best and play in the No. 1 stadium. That’s what we are taught from a very young age.”

The turning point of the game came in the middle of the third quarter.

Ryan (14-1) had just scored on a 4-yard TD run by Oklahoma commit Drew Sanders to pull within 29-14 and was getting the ball back after the defense forced a three-and-out and Highland Park’s first punt.

But the Raiders went for the rolling football and HP’s Harris Feferman recovered.

Morris scored his third and final rushing TD two plays later from the 2 to extend the lead to 36-14.

Ryan turned it over on downs during its next possession and the Scots scored its final TD on a 15-yard pass from Morris to Brown with 10 minutes left. Brown only made three catches, but each for a score.

“We just knew they had very athletic corners. They play both ways,” Brown said. “We knew if we just played hard enough and aggressive enough that we could get past them.”

Morris threw a 31-yard score to Brown on fourth-and-9 during the game’s opening drive that gave the champs a 7-0 lead with 8:35 left in the first quarter. Morris, who finished with 75 yards rushing, scored on a 4-yard run to make it 14-0 midway through the period.

A 7-yard pass to Brown just before intermission gave the Scots a 21-7 edge.

“We didn’t see much, it’s just our connection all week,” Morris said. “I trust my teammates. Bennett did a great job.”

Highland Park went up 29-7 early in the third when Morris, the son of Arkansas coach Chad Morris, scored on a 5-yard run. He would also finish the day 21 of 28 passing for 273 yards.

The only bright spot for Ryan came from Sanders. The 4-star prospect rushed for a 31-yard gain on its third drive and capped it off with a 3-yard TD run to cut the lead in half, 14-7, with 3:42 in the second.

Sanders added an 8-yard TD reception from Seth Henigan with 4:52 left in the fourth.

Highland Park gained 480 yards of total offense. Benner Page rushed 19 times for 98 yards while Finn Corwin and Ben Smith combined for 14 catches and 183 yards.

Ryan, which lost to HP 45-35 last year and 31-24 in 2016, was held to 297 yards.

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