SPARTA — Powered by 222 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground from Highland senior Brock Veley, the Scots out gained the East Knox Bulldogs 490134 on their way to a 50-7 home win Friday to remain undefeated in the conference heading in to the final week of the season.
“The guys just came in ready to play tonight,” Highland coach Chad Carpenter said. “We played really physical, both sides of the ball. I thought the guys up front did an amazing job and the backs ran extremely hard. It just seemed like we were clicking on all cylinders tonight.”
From the opening kickoff, the Scots took it to the Bulldogs. Jack Weaver took the first play from scrimmage 61 yards to set the home team up in the red zone and Tate Tobin took the next carry for a 7-yard score, putting Highland up 6-0 with only 36 ticks off the clock.
“They came out and punched us right in the mouth,” East Knox coach Cody Reese said. “They did exactly what we thought they were going to do and we never responded. We played hard, but we just never bounced back from anything. We didn’t counter anything and hats off to Highland.”
The Scots stuck to their running game plan and after a punt by the Bulldogs, Highland marched 80 yards down the field, with each of their four backs carrying the ball at least once. Veley ended the drive in another Scot score from 10 out and Brody Matthews ran for the two-point conversion, putting the home team ahead 14-0 at the 7:10 mark of the first quarter.
“The coaches challenged us all week just to come out fast from the start,” Veley said. “East Knox is a very good football team so hats off to them because they have so many athletes, but we just stuck to our game plan and believed in ourselves.”
Highland’s Ian Taylor ended the next Bulldog possession with an interception, but a fumble on the second play of the Scot drive was recovered by Kasson Krownapple, giving the ball quickly back to the Bulldogs. After a three-and-out, Highland took over possession and Veley notched his second touchdown of the night, this from 62 yards out with 2:23 to go in the opening frame. A long drive for the Bulldogs was turned over on downs and Veley made them pay again, this time scoring on the fourth play of the second quarter on a 65-yard scamper. Isaiah Stoneburner caught the pass from Taylor to convert for two, giving the Scots a 28-0 lead with 10:51 to go in the second.
“Chase Carpenter pulls, so I just follow right behind him, and the line and everybody just sealed the edge for me so I was able to cut off of them,” Veley said of his massive runs.
Veley was not done in the half, take a 4th-and-6 run 36 yards to the house on the next Highland drive. He also ran for the two-point conversion to push the Scots ahead 36-0 with 6:40 to go before intermission. Despite long drives into enemy territory by both teams late in the second quarter, the score remained 36-0 heading to the locker room.
With the running clock starting in the second half, East Knox moved the ball to midfield but turned it over on downs, setting up Weaver for a 24-yard rushing score.
Riley Kemmer got her foot into the action with a converted PAT to put the home team ahead 43-0 halfway through the third quarter.
Both teams kept their starters on the field and East Knox managed a bit of offense to close out the third, driving 65 yards on eight plays, ending in Krownapple finding the end zone on a 5yard run, with a Weston Melick kick cutting the lead to 43-7 with 43 ticks to go before the fourth.
Starting in the fourth, reserve players from both sidelines took the field. A bad snap caused a Bulldog fumble and set up the Scots on East Knox’s 6. Jon Jensen made the visitors pay once more, scoring on the first play of the drive, nudging the lead to 50-7 with 6:28 to go. Two more Bulldog fumbles, paired with Highland kneels kept the score there.
Veley toted the rock nine times, but made those nine carries count with 222 yards and four scores on the night.
“It all starts up front,” Veley said. “I don’t get the yards without the line. I follow right behind them and make the most of it. I just give it my all.”
Veley was not the only solid runner for the Scots, who amassed 476 yards on the ground. Matthews notched 129 yards on 13 carries, while Weaver kicked in 90 yards on six carries and Tobin added another 22 yards on five carries.
“We didn’t match it all night long,” Reese said of the physicality in the trenches. “That’s why the score ended up being 50-7. They took it to us. We got our butts kicked and it is what it is. Congrats to Highland for winning this game.”
Highland quarterback Taylor tossed only three times, with two completions, both to running backs, for 14 yards.
Krownapple led the Bulldogs on the ground with 55 yards on 14 carries. Kadden Lester, who had 14 yards on 8 carries, was 8-of-21 passing for 62 yards. He spread the ball to four different targets, all of whom had two receptions. Dawson Moreland recorded 23 yards, while Gage Steinmetz had 22 yards and Krownapple and Caleb Gallwitz combined for 17 yards.
East Knox returns home next week for the Devil-Dog game, now with a 7-2 record and a 4-2 record in the Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference. Highland improved to 8-1 on the year, with a perfect 6-0 mark against league foes. The Scots host Northmor (90, 6-0) Friday for the KMAC title.
“I think the guys understand the magnitude,” Carpenter said. “Northmor knocked us off last year. Nobody has forgotten that. It’s one of those things that I don’t think we are going to have to remind our kids of the magnitude of this game. … We’ve got a lot on the line and I think our kids are going to be ready to play.”