In an era where offensive football rules, the best offensive play on Friday night came from the Highland's defense.
Clinging to an 8-7 lead, the Hawks were trying to stop Glendale Mountain Ridge, which was desperately trying to get into field goal range late in the fourth quarter and win its homecoming football game.
Quarterback Robert Limmer threw deep and was intercepted by Highland’s Chip White. White raced down the Highland sideline for 40 yards, stopped, ran completely across the field avoiding several would-be tacklers, then ran the final 35 yards along the Mountain Ridge sideline and into the end zone for the game-saving 75-yard interception return for a touchdown.
“I was so tired I had to sit out the kickoff,” White said. “I was dead tired.”
In getting the 15-7 victory, Highland stifled the Mountain Lions offense. The Hawks (2-2) have not allowed a touchdown in their two victories. Half of Mountain Ridge’s six first downs came via the penalty as Highland held the Lions to less than 100 yards of total offense and forced four turnovers.
“We’ve got a pretty solid defense, but I know we can be better,” White said. “Nothing deep, nothing cheap.”
The Hawks needed their defense, because their offense was almost as challenged as Mountain Ridge (1-3). Highland’s only offensive touchdown came early in the second quarter when quarterback Blake Young hit receiver Colin Gardiner with a 4-yard scoring pass. A two-point conversion run by Ryan McCord made it 8-0 Hawks.
Mountain Ridge cut the lead to 8-7 late in the first half when Young was intercepted by Jake Christopherson who returned the football down to Highland’s 10-yard line. Two plays later Logan Knott scored on a 7-yard run.
And that was the offense
“We don’t do anything the easy way,” Highland coach Pete Wahlheim said. “We just have to grind things out. I’m still waiting for us to play all three phases of football in the same game.”
The second half was rough. After getting 10 first downs in the first half, Highland had zero in the second half. It didn’t help that McCord, Highland’s leading rusher who's been battling injuries most of the season, missed almost all of the second half with an injury.
“Both teams couldn’t do anything with the football,” Wahlheim said.
Leading by just one point, his worst fear was the Lions would get a chance to kick a field goal late to win the game. Wahlheim had seen Mountain Ridge kicker Logan Besore on film.
“He scared me,” Wahlheim said. “It’s a one point game and we’re just playing field position football.”
Highland 15, Mountain Ridge 7
First Downs: H 10, MR 6
Rushing: H 30-93, MR 23-57
Passing: H 10-17-80-1, MR 4-21-30-3
Fumbles-lost: H 1-0, MR 2-1
Penalties-yards: H 7-75, MR 8-60
Highland 0 8 0 7 - 15
Mtn. Ridge 0 7 0 0 - 7
H: Gardiner 4 pass from Young (McCord run)
MR: Knott 7 run (Besore kick)
H: White 75 interception return (Miller kick)