Highland Park suffers loss in shootout with Tyler

WACO, Texas -- The Highland Park Scots moved in close enough to see the fourth round of the playoffs, but once again they couldn't quite reach it.

For the fourth straight season, Highland Park fell in the third round, this time in a 42-39 shootout loss Friday night to Tyler John Tyler.

"You never like to lose in the postseason," Highland Park coach Randy Allen said. "This football team really overachieved this season. We lost seven starters and with Brady [Burgin] getting hurt tonight, that's eight. But we battled and we'll keep battling until we break down the door."

The Scots, who finished the season with a 12-1 mark, reached the state championship game in 2007 when they fell to Lake Travis, 36-34.

While fighting through injuries for much of this season, undefeated Highland Park appeared ready for long foray into the postseason. The Scots gave themselves one last chance to extend the campaign with 27 seconds remaining against Tyler.

But Highland Park's 51-yard field goal attempt turned into a desperation heave by wide receiver/holder Hunter Halpin that fell incomplete, allowing Tyler to take possession and run out the clock.

Moments earlier, Highland Park backup quarterback Scott Ellerman, who entered the game when Burgin went down with an injury midway through the fourth quarter, directed a drive that reached the Tyler 12. However, a 5-yard penalty and a sack by the swarming Tyler defensive front pushed the Scots back to the Lions' 34.

Highland Park kicker Nick Rose booted a 42-yard field goal in the first half, but never had the chance to put his leg into the attempt from 51 yards. Halpin, perhaps sensing trouble from the Tyler front, jumped up with the ball and looked for a Scots receiver, though none were available.

Halpin was responsible for one spectacular play in the fourth quarter when he caught a short pass from Ellerman, skirted the Tyler defense near the Scots' sideline, then raced to a 57-yard touchdown that cut the Lions' lead to 42-39.

And Ellerman kept Highland Park's final drive rolling with a dump pass over the middle to tackle-eligible Ethan Beasley that reached the Tyler 17.

"The theme of our team all season has been that when one guy goes down, the next guy comes in and does the job," Allen said. "Scott Ellerman came in and made plays and gave us a chance to win the football game."

But it will be Tyler (10-3) which moves on to face the winner of Saturday's Rockwall Heath vs. Sherman contest.

The Scots and Lions traded long scoring drives for the entire first half, which never saw a punt or turnover.

By halftime, Highland Park and Tyler had combined for 512 yards of offense, 26 first downs and 45 points as the Scots claimed a 24-21 lead at intermission.

Highland Park running back Preston Miller turned the wheels for the Scots from the beginning, gaining 77 total yards on the Scots' game-opening 80-yard touchdown drive. Backfield mate Jackson Hauser finished that march with a 3-yard touchdown run.

By halftime, Miller already had 111 rushing yards, four receptions for 51 yards and a 54-yard kickoff return to the Tyler 41. However, it was after Miller's kickoff return that Highland Park failed to score a touchdown for the first time in the contest, settling for Rose's 42-yard field goal.

Tyler seemed to pick up speed through the first half. The Lions needed 11 plays to score their first touchdown, seven for their second and just four for their third as receiver Fred Ross raced 47 yards on a jet sweep to tie it, 21-21, with 4:05 left in the first half.

Tyler continued that trend early in the third quarter when quarterback Greg Ward ran 66 yards for a touchdown on the third play of the second half.

The Lions then forced a turnover on downs, the first big defensive break in the game, and took over at the Highland Park 39.

From there, it took Tyler just one play to score as receiver Justice Liggins ran 39 yards for a touchdown on another jet sweep.That gave Tyler a 35-24 lead and control of the offense-heavy contest.

"That's an explosive football team," Allen said. "They run and throw and catch better than anyone we've seen, and they certainly did that tonight."