Highland defense dominant in win over River Valley


Highland’s defense proved to be nearly impossible to penetrate in the team’s 28-14 win at River Valley, only surrendering a touchdown in the final two minutes of the contest.

The Scot D frustrated the Vikings all night, forcing six turnovers and making RV turn the ball over on downs three more times. While the offense also struggled with turnovers at times, losing the ball three times and giving it up on downs twice, they were able to accomplish enough to deliver four touchdowns to their visiting fans.

“The defense did an outstanding job tonight,” said head coach Chad Carpenter. “We really just put a great gameplan together and the kids executed it well. They’re getting some confidence and that’s key for us.”

While Highland’s defense struck first, it was River Valley’s that got first blood. After the Scots punted on the game-opening possession, they quickly got the ball back, as Jarin Vasquez picked off a Josh Ellwood pass at the Highland 25.

They wouldn’t hold the ball for long, though, as the Vikings stripped the ball on Highland’s second play and Samuel Haines collected it for a 21-yard defensive score. After the extra point, they held a 7-0 lead.

The rest of the first half was all Scots. Receiving the ball at their own 22, Highland got runs of eight and 12 yards from Brody Matthews. After two more running plays lost the team a yard, they went to the air and got a 59-yard scoring pass from Reese Weissenfluh to Isaiah Stoneburner to get on the board. Despite not converting on a two-point conversion, they still were within a 7-6 margin.

“We’re so run-oriented that we see so many guys in the box, we have to throw it to keep them honest,” said Carpenter.

The Scot defense picked up its second turnover on RV’s next possession, recovering a fumbled snap on the Viking 38. From there, a pass to Stoneburner netted 16 yards and three runs by Matthews picked up 21 more, setting up a one-yard scoring play courtesy of Jack Weaver. This time, Brock Veley’s two-point run was successful to give Highland a 14-7 advantage.

River Valley drove into Scot territory on their next drive, but turned the ball over on downs, giving Highland the ball on their 37. Once again, the Scots mixed their rush game with the occasional pass to efficiently drive down the field.

Matthews had four carries for 28 yards and Stoneburner hauled in a 27-yard reception to set up a six-yard scoring run by Brock Veley with 8:24 remaining in the second quarter. Matthews’ two-point conversion gave Highland a 22-7 lead, which they would be able to hold for the remainder of the half. While they turned the ball over twice in that time, the defense came up huge, with both Josh Cantrell and Stoneburner earning interceptions.

Carpenter noted that his team have issues with turnovers and penalties, saying, “We can’t make mistakes like that playing good teams like this.”

Neither team could get much going offensively for much of the second half. River Valley got the opening kick, but fumbled the ball on their first from scrimmage. While the Scots started with great field position at the RV 33, their drive stalled and they turned the ball over on downs at the 14.

From there, the teams traded punts and turnovers until the waning moments of the game. After a Clay Matthews interception gave Highland the ball at the Viking 44, Brody Matthews carried the ball six straight times to move it to the two.

An attempted quarterback run led to a six-yard loss, but on fourth-and-goal, Weissenfluh hit Stoneburner for an eight-yard touchdown to provide their team’s final six points. River Valley would then score with 1:13 remaining, but Highland recovered the onside kick attempt and ran out the clock to win by 14 points.

While the defense made a lot of huge plays, the offense had its moments. Weissenfluh connected with Stoneburner four times for 110 yards and a pair of scores, Brody Matthews ran for 172 yards and both Weaver and Veley contributed rushing touchdowns.

Now, the Scots prepare for the beginning of the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference season with a home contest against newcomer Danville — a playoff team last year.

“Danville’s going to come out five wide and throw it all over the place and they have a quarterback who likes to run, too, so we’ll have our hands full,” said Carpenter.

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Highland’s Brock Veley heads around the corner to the end zone for a second-quarter touchdown in his team’s 28-14 win over host River Valley.
http://www.morrowcountysentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/29/2017/09/web1_brockveley.jpgHighland’s Brock Veley heads around the corner to the end zone for a second-quarter touchdown in his team’s 28-14 win over host River Valley. Rob Hamilton | Morrow County Sentinel

Brody Matthews, shown returning a kickoff, led the Highland ground attack on Friday, mustering 172 yards in the Scot non-league victory.
http://www.morrowcountysentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/29/2017/09/web1_brodymatthews.jpgBrody Matthews, shown returning a kickoff, led the Highland ground attack on Friday, mustering 172 yards in the Scot non-league victory. Rob Hamilton | Morrow County Sentinel

By Rob Hamilton

roberthamilton@aimmediamidwest.com

Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS