Highland vs Desert Edge

Fireworks blasted throughout the skies over Highland High School on homecoming, but on the field it was the Hawks defensive line and run game dominating the Desert Edge Scorpions.

In Highland’s first home game since winning the Conference 6A championship, they defeated Desert Edge of the 5A conference 27-6. Despite a three possession final score, the game was within one possession until six minutes in the fourth quarter.

In a back in forth first half, each team struggled to find rhythm in the offense.

Despite winning the field possession battle the game had turned into early, the Hawks turned the ball over twice. A late 69 yard touchdown pass from Hawks junior quarterback Joseph Walter to senior Cooper Scott put the Hawks up 6-0 right before halftime.

After a low scoring first half the second half got started quickly. Highland’s Chance Cauthen punched in a touchdown run set up by the dominant running of the Hawks main ball carrier Carson Mullenaux, only to be answered. The Scorpions scored their only touchdown on a Christopher Cordero touchdown scamper minutes later on a quick drive, making it a 13-6 game early in the third quarter.

Scott found success in the pass rush as well, the senior duo of Scott and Gage Wilcock combined for six sacks in the Hawks victory, with three apiece.

Scorpions quarterback Hezekiah Millender was sacked for a total of six times.

The Scorpions offense got inside the Hawks’ 30 yard line three times in the loss, with only 6 points coming out of it.

“We had to have our outside contain and force him in,” Wilcock said. “Great game by everyone.”

The Hawks ran the ball well and with many different ball carriers. Between the direct snap and Walter handing the ball off, seven different Hawks carried the ball for over 100 yards.

“In order to win games we are going to have to be able to run the ball, that’s who we are,’ Farrel said. “We have seniors up front, we got good running backs. There were some signs of life in the first. I think we can start to push them as they got tired and we got stronger.”

Highland had struggled to find offensive rhythm in the first half, but play caller and Hawks head coach Brock Farrel stuck with the run and it set them up in the second half. The direct snap was used in the first half, but after a turnover and a lack of rhythm Highland stayed away from it in the second half.

“It gives us an element we need,” Farrel said. “We had success under center so I wanted to stay with that.”

After almost a quarter of field possession battle the Hawks put the game away with a 15 yard touchdown run for Cauthen’s second of the day. Junior Eli Kerby ran one in to wrap up the scoring at 26-7.

In a final homecoming for seniors Scott and Wilcock, combining for six sacks allowed the back half of the Hawks defensive unit to play patiently and not give up big plays.

“This dude man, I missed a couple,” Scott said. “You have to keep your feet. I probably could've had like six or seven sacks if I stayed on my feet and his outside hip.”

The Hawks travel to Brophy Prep in Phoenix next week, while the Scorpions host a matchup with Tucson’s Ironwood Ridge.

“Next week, next game, that’s it,” Scott said.

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