ROCKWALL, Texas -- Highland Park defensive back Mark Gottsacker knew things would be OK, even after Rockwall-Heath receiver Amaris Fields burned him for a score a 43-yard, game-tying touchdown near the end of the fourth quarter and drew a taunting penalty by waving a finger in Gottsacker's face.
With just over a minute left in the game, Fields again found himself open downfield, but this time the ball bounced off his arms and into the hands of Gottsacker.
“Karma comes back to bite you,” Gottsacker said. “The next one hit him right in hands and it tipped out right into my lap.”
The teams would take their battle to overtime, which would see a a missed point-after touchdown for Rockwall-Heath (8-1, 5-1) and then a 1-yard touchdown run by Highland Park running back Preston Miller on fourth down with a successful PAT by kicker Nick Rose. The result was a 31-30 win for Highland Park (9-0, 6-0) and another District 10-4A title.
Down 24-10 in the third quarter, Rockwall-Heath battled to get back. The Hawks scored on the first play of the fourth on a 1-yard run by running back Jovan Hernandez to bring the game within a touchdown.
Rockwall-Heath’s special teams came up huge with a blocked kick that lead to the 43-yard Fields touchdown catch.
Highland Park marched back down the field after the Gottsacker interception and set up for a 47-yard field goal after a false start penalty on the Hawks, but Rockwall-Heath again blocked the kick and sent the game into overtime.
“I guess everyone got a little too confident and they came through all the gaps,” Rose said.
In overtime, Rockwall-Heath barely picked up a first down on third and 2, then stormed into the end zone on an 11-yard rush by Rico Henderson. But the point-after try was low and hit the left upright, shifting the momentum to the Scots sideline.
It didn’t take long for Miller to set the Scots up with a first down on the 5-yard line, but he wasn’t able to punch it through until the pressure was turned up on fourth down.
“We knew it was it,” Miller said. “It was our last chance. We blocked our butts off like it was the last play of our life and we got the win. I can’t describe it with words. It wasn’t just me crossing that line it was our whole team.”
Rose, who had impressed everyone with kickoffs that sailed way out of the back of the end zone, made his career highlight kick from just 19-yards away.
“I was just thinking keep my head down and follow through,” Rose said. “Stick with my basics and hopefully it would go in. My heart was going crazy before I kicked it and then it was all relief that I could pull my team through.”
Highland Park head coach Randy Allen was happy with how his defense played and said his offense did what it needed to do to win, but he was relieved to just get past Rockwall-Heath.
“We won’t see a better defense,” Allen said.