Scot “D” paves way in win over MG
By ROB HAMILTON
When Highland has won football games this year, a strong defense has led the way more often than not.
That proved to be true again on Friday night as the host Scots (5–3, 5–2 in league play) posted their fourth shutout of the season in topping the 1–7 Indians (1–6 in Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference games) by a 42–0 margin.
“The defense played extremely well tonight,” said Scot coach Chad Carpenter. “I hope to carry that over next week (against River Valley).”
Both the offensive and defensive units worked together to stake the Scots to a quick 14-point lead.
Highland took the opening kickoff at their own 30 and immediately got 40 yards on a run by Shawn Beltz. Five plays later, David Fisher scored on a 12-yard run to give them an early lead. Quenton Miller, who was perfect on extra points, kicked his first to make the score 7–0.
On Mount Gilead’s ensuing possession, they immediately fumbled and Highland pounced on the ball. On their first play from scrimmage, Beltz ran it for a 26-yard touchdown that put his team ahead by two scores.
Carpenter was very pleased at his team’s fast start.
“Absolutely — that’s how you’d want any game to go,” he said. “The kids were ready to play this week. It’s really important to get a good start and get a lot of momentum in the beginning of the game.”
The Indians would try to get some momentum on their next drive behind the arm of Payton Vanderkooi and the legs of Tyler Bashaw. Three passes from Vanderkooi to Michael Bland netted 27 yards and Bashaw ran four times for 19 yards, as Mount Gilead moved to the Scot 21.
However, their drive stalled deep in Highland territory. After a false start turned third-and-three to third-and-eight, Vanderkooi was sacked on the next play. Then, a fourth-down pass was intercepted by Gabe Randall to give Highland the ball on their own five.
“We shot ourselves in the foot,” said Mount Gilead coach Steve Ringer. “We’d have a good play and then three bad ones.”
Highland’s running game then dominated a 15-play drive that ate the final 3:26 of the first quarter, as well as 4:30 of the second.
While quarterback Josh Gahm did hit Randall for a 10-yard gain on third-and-nine, all the rest of the yards were gained on the ground. Fisher mustered 64 of those yards, but Kyle Minyo, James Cochran, Beltz and Gahm all had positive rushes to help out on the drive.
So far this year, the Scots have been able to count on multiple backs, with five backs having over 100 yards this season and two of that number currently being over 700.
“It is nice — we’re very fortunate to have a lot of guys who can run it,” said Carpenter. “We have three really solid backs who do a wonderful job.”
After Highland scored a touchdown on a four-yard Fisher run to take a 21–0 lead, Mount Gilead moved into Scot territory once again.
A 15-yard run by Kolby Fisher, a nine-yard dash by Bland and two carries for 14 by Bashaw got the ball to the Highland 29, but they wouldn’t get any farther down the field.
A pair of five-yard losses on rushing plays and two incomplete passes gave the ball back to the Scots on their 39 with 4:40 remaining in the half.
Highland would make good use of that time, getting a touchdown on a 29-yard pass from Gahm to Beltz to give the Scots a 28–0 lead after two periods of play.
Ringer felt his team could have done better tackling, as Highland’s ground game carried them to 312 rushing yards.
“We didn’t tackle well tonight,” he said. “We had guys in position, but they didn’t tackle well.”
In the third quarter, after the Scots stopped Mount Gilead on their first possession, Kyle Minyo returned a punt 69 yards for Highland’s fifth touchdown of the day.
The Scots would add one more score late in the quarter, as Andrew Stillwell capped a 12-play drive with an eight-yard touchdown run that capped the game’s scoring at 42–0.
After the game had concluded, all Ringer wanted to do was focus on next week’s game at archrival Cardington.
“It’s Cardington week now — enough said,” stated the coach. “It’s a game we look forward to every year and they do too.”
In the Scot locker room, Carpenter also was looking forward to next week’s contest with the 6–2 Vikings.
“It’s a big league game,” he said. “We want to win, of course, but they have a nice team.”