Highland gets past Ontario

For the second straight week, the Highland football team was involved in a closely-fought game, but this time, the post-game mood was celebratory.

After losing by one-point to Bloom-Carroll in overtime last week, the Scots were able to hold off Ontario to claim a 32-26 victory that evened their record at 1-1.

“We needed to come out and play really well to beat them,” said head coach Chad Carpenter. “This is a huge win for us and our program.”

After a first quarter in which neither team’s offense could find a consistent rhythm, the two teams put plenty of points on the board. Starting the scoring was Ontario’s Ethan Pensante, who took a punt 79 yards for a score in the opening seconds of the second quarter. Nick Arnold’s point-after kick gave the visiting Warriors a 7-0 lead.

The Scots immediately responded, though. With the ball on their own 40, Brock Veley darted 40 yards to move the ball deep into Ontario territory. A few plays later, quarterback Reese Weissenfluh connected with Isaiah Stoneburner on a 16-yard touchdown. Brody Matthews ran in a two-point conversion and Highland had their first lead at 8-7 with 9:15 remaining in the half.

“I knew they were playing off and told coach that,” said Stoneburner. “I outran him and scored.”

Josh Cantrell immediately got the ball back in Highland’s hands with an interception, but the Scots would fumble the ball back to their opponents. That mistake wouldn’t cost the Scots, though, as they were able to force a punt that Veley returned to the Warrior 46.

The Weissenfluh-to-Stoneburner combination worked well for Highland again, as the two connected twice on the drive — first for a 27-yard gain that erased a holding call against the Scots and moved the ball to the 27 and then on a 24-yard touchdown. Another two-point run by Matthews put Highland up 16-7.

“Isaiah went up and made huge plays,” said Carpenter. “But I’m proud of all our kids.”

Next, it was the defense’s turn to make their coach proud. After Ontario drove from their 23 to deep inside Scot territory, it looked like they would cut into Highland’s lead. However, facing a first-and-goal from their own four, the Scot defense held firm, only allowing the Warriors to advance to the two before pulling off a huge stop to keep the score at 16-7 going into the half.

“From working on it from last week, we worked on getting up in their mouths and hitting them,” said Cantrell. “Today, I think we really worked as a team. We really responded and used our game plan.”

Both teams spent the entire second half trading touchdowns. Ontario went 68 yards in eight plays on their opening possession, getting a 37-yard scoring pass from Cam Todd to Lyle Scott to close within a 16-14 margin.

Highland responded with their own long drive, going 76 yards in nine plays, all on the ground. Jack Weaver picked up a 13-yard gain to set up a 49-yard run by Veley that moved the ball to the Warrior two-yard line. After an Ontario encroachment call, Weissenfluh then would call his own number and score on a short run. The junior QB then ran for two more points to make it a 24-14 margin.

However, Ontario quickly responded, as a huge kick return by Pensante placed the ball on the Scot 20 and Todd was able to hit Nolan Hatfield with a four-yard touchdown pass five plays later. The PAT failed, though, so Highland led 24-20.

As the fourth quarter started, the Scots saw an 11-play drive end with an interception on Ontario’s one-yard line. The Highland defense was able to hold firm, though, forcing a turnover on downs at their 36-yard line. Two plays later, Veley ran in a 23-yard touchdown and Matthews added the two-point conversion to make it a 32-20 game with 6:09 to go.

Highland was able to put Ontario in a fourth-and-14 from the Scot 49, but Pensante was able to work a little more magic, hauling in a pass from Todd and taking it the distance to bring his team within a 32-26 margin.

The final five minutes were tense for the Scogts. A 28-yard run by Veley got them to the Ontario 36, but a holding penalty and a pair of losses moved them back into their territory and an out-of-bounds punt gave the Warriors the ball near midfield with 1:04 to play.

Highland’s defense was able to make one final stand, though, forcing three incompletions and one short gain to seal the win.

“They had so many weapons on offense and our defense did a great job of bending, not breaking,” said Carpenter. “Last week, we didn’t do the little things, but this week, we did.”

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Highland quarterback Reese Weissenfluh prepares to unleash a pass in his team’s thrilling 32-26 win over Ontario.
https://www.morrowcountysentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/29/2017/09/web1_reeseweissenfluh.jpgHighland quarterback Reese Weissenfluh prepares to unleash a pass in his team’s thrilling 32-26 win over Ontario. Rob Hamilton | Morrow County Sentinel

By Rob Hamilton


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