After giving up 30 points in their opening-week loss to Cardington, the Highland Scots played like they had a chip on their shoulders against Fredericktown Friday night.
The visiting Freddies were held to 151 yards and no points in Highland’s 28-0 victory — a win that improved the Scots to 1-1.
“Last week, if we made mistakes, we’d continue to make mistakes,” said Highland head coach Matt Jones. “We handled adversity better than last week.”
That was put on display early in the game. Fredericktown took the opening drive from their 43 to the Scot 33 before turning the ball over on downs. However, a Highland interception would give them the ball back on the home team’s 45. Three plays later and it was fourth-and-eight from the 43 and the Freddies had to punt.
“We shut them down defensively,” said Jones. “They played lights out. The front three did a good job causing havoc in there.”
The game would remain scoreless until early in the second quarter. After a Freddie punt, Highland took possession at midfield. A 14-yard run by freshman Dane Nauman moved the ball to the 36 and a short pass advanced them one yard farther. Facing third-and-nine, quarterback Kadin Johnson found Landyn Albanese in stride and the receiver took the ball into the end zone for a 6-0 lead.
That lead would hold up going into the half, as a late Freddie drive was ended by a missed field goal with time running out in the second quarter.
Highland’s defense continued to shut down Fredericktown in the second half, but over those final 24 minutes, the offense picked up its game. The Scots reached the end zone on three of five possessions during that span to pull away from their opponents.
“That’s what we talked about at halftime — we have to be consistent,” said Jones. “If a mistake happens, no big deal, we have to continue on.”
The Scots punted on their first possession of the third quarter, but after forcing a three-and-out, the team started from their 42 and quickly moved down the field. Receptions of 17 and 21 yards by Landon Remmert moved the team within striking distance, setting up a 17-yard scoring run by Nauman. The freshman added a two-point run and the score was 14-0 with 5:38 left in the third.
The early stages of the fourth quarter proved fatal to the Freddies. The team had driven to the Scot 40 and quarterback Ben Mast went deep on the first play of the period. His pass was intercepted by Jay Melchiori, though, giving the ball back to Highland at their own five.
The Scots would hold the ball for 10 plays that ate four minutes off the clock, relying on the legs of Johnson and Cody Matthews to move the ball from deep in their territory to the Fredericktown end zone. Johnson ran it in the final eight yards, while Matthews added a two-point conversion to make it 22-0.
Jones felt that sequence was huge for his team.
“No doubt about that,” he said. “That was a good stop for us, a good pick. Then we had a good drive for 95 yards and ran some clock.”
After forcing another quick punt, Highland got one more touchdown, as they capped a 60-yard drive with a 32-yard scoring run by Johnson to provide their final margin of victory.
Johnson had a big night as a dual-threat quarterback. He completed eight passes for 95 yards and a score, while also running for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Matthews added 70 yards rushing, while Nauman had 35. Remmert caught four passes for 48 yards, while Albanese had two for 36.
After the clock had run out, Jones had a simple message for his team — enjoy the night, but be ready to work after that.
“I just told them after the game to enjoy it, but tomorrow morning at 8 o’clock, it’s all about Mount Gilead.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS