ARLINGTON — Highland Park picked a good time to have its best offensive performance of the season.
The Scots racked up a season high in points during a 73-20 dismantling of McKinney North on Friday in a Class 5A Division I Region II area round game at AT&T Stadium.
HP advances to meet Mansfield Summit in the regional quarterfinals at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 1 at SMU’s Ford Stadium.
The Scots (11-1) extended their winning streak to 11 games by reaching the end zone on eight of nine offensive possessions, while adding touchdowns on defense and special teams.
John Stephen Jones again led the way by passing for 263 yards and three touchdowns — completing 17 of 23 throws — and also rushing for three scores. Paxton Alexander returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, rushed for 137 yards, and also caught a scoring pass.
Just as important, the HP defense showed improvement after allowing 49 points in the bi-district round a week ago. The high-powered Bulldogs (8-4) tallied just one touchdown after halftime.
After Cameron Constantine’s 2-yard touchdown run on McKinney North’s opening drive, the Scots outscored the Bulldogs 38-6 over the remainder of the first half.
They did it with remarkable efficiency, putting 31 points on the board after their first 11 snaps. Jones threw a 7-yard scoring pass to Alexander. Then he found Cade Saustad on a 55-yard strike. Later in the half, he capped consecutive drives with scoring runs of 22 and 2 yards.
By the time Jones found Walker Williamson with a short touchdown pass in the final minute before halftime, HP had rolled up 374 total yards and 45 points.
“We're just clicking. Our quarterback, receivers, offensive line, running backs, everybody is doing their job,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “We make plays when we have to. We're making big plays, and we’re also driving the ball when we have to.”
McKinney North chipped into the deficit with a 7-yard scoring pass from Constantine to Parker Brehm early in the second quarter. But the Scots blocked the point-after kick, and James Herring ran it back for two points for a key momentum shift.
The rout continued into the second half. Jones plunged into the end zone on HP’s opening possession of the third quarter. And on the ensuing play from scrimmage, Zak Folts intercepted a pass and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown to make the score 59-13.
Touchdown runs by Conner Allen and Chandler Morris rounded out the scoring for the Scots, who rotated plenty of reserves into the game in the fourth quarter.
The only offensive miscue for the Scots came in the second quarter, when McKinney North’s Keyon Walker intercepted a pass in the end zone.
HP averaged more than 10 yards per play. Saustad caught five passes for a team-high 95 yards, while Scully Jenevein tallied five receptions for 70 yards.
For the Bulldogs, Lamar Lucas rushed for a game-high 154 yards on 26 carries. Constantine connected on 13 of 21 throws for 157 yards and added 44 rushing yards on 20 attempts.