Horn took down one Class 5A state power a week ago against Tyler John Tyler and was hoping to do the same on Friday night.
This challenge, though, was far different, as three-time reigning state champion Highland Park stepped into the ring.
The Jaguars certainly delivered their share of blows, but the Scots again showed why they are one of the most dominant forces in high school football today as they posted a 52-25 victory at E.H. Hanby Stadium.
Horn falls to 1-1 on the season while Class 5A No. 1 Highland Park improves to 2-0 and extends its overall winning streak to a state-best 33 games in a row.
“I think we played with good effort, we just made too many mistakes tonight,” Horn head coach Chris Hudler said “There were a couple times we as coaches didn’t make the right call, but at the end of the day, it was too many mistakes, especially against a good team like that who has done it for years.”
The final on the scoreboard might was not indicative of how much of the night played out.
Highland Park led 14-0 less than four minutes into the game, but Horn found ways to hang around.
After a Nick Garcia interception set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Davazea Gabriel to cut it to 21-13 early in the second quarter, the Jaguars forced a quick punt and took over near midfield.
The Scot defense rose to the occasion, though, getting the ball back and scoring 10 points in the final five minutes of the half to take a 31-13 lead.
Horn struck early in the second half when Gabriel fired a 55-yard scoring strike to N’Kowsi Emory to make it 31-19 and Keidrin Walker intercepted a pass to thwart a Highland Park drive near the end zone. On the return, though, the Jaguars were flagged for holding to pin them deep in their own territory.
The Scots were again able to respond and the Jaguars would not get another chance to make it a one-score game.
“No doubt, we regained some of the momentum and had it within striking distance and then we came up short,” Hudler said. “They just got on top of us a little too far.”
Horn moved the ball well at times, but hurt itself with field position, a pair of turnovers and 10 penalties.
Gabriel threw for 194 yards and a touchdown and also rushed 13 times for 85 yards and a pair of scores. Ben Wyatt and Charles Crawford combined to average better than five yards per carry and Cameron Jackson consistently found holes in the Highland Park secondary, finishing with five catches for 117 yards.
Scot star quarterback Chandler Morris did not duplicate his nine-touchdown effort from a week ago, but he was still a deciding factor in the game, as he accounted for 255 total yards and four touchdowns for the Scots.
Highland Park quickly marched down the field on the opening drive, with Morris tossing a 11-yard touchdown pass to Paxton Anderson. Andrew Bonnet intercepted a pass on Horn’s first play and less than a minute later, Morris was in the end zone on a 5-yard run to take a 14-0 lead.
The Jaguars shook off the bad start and put together a eight-play, 75-yard march. Gabriel hit Jackson for gains of 37 and 25 yards and Wyatt capped it with a 5-yard touchdown run to close to within 14-6.
Trailing 21-6 early in the second quarter, Horn got stuffed at the goal line on fourth down. The defense then rose to the occasion, as Nick Garcia picked off a tipped ball to set up a 2-yard run by Gabriel to make it 21-13.
After the Jaguars missed out on its chance to tie it up, Highland Park used a 1-yard touchdown run by Morris and a 30-yard field goal by Hayden Clyce to push the lead to 31-13 at halftime.
The big play from Gabriel to Emory to start the second half again made things interesting, but the Scots began to wear the Horn defense down from that point.
A 5-yard touchdown run by Will Anderson late in the third quarter and a 1-yard score from James Durand early in the fourth extended the advantage to 45-19.
Gabriel showed his athleticism, outracing the defense on a 45-yard touchdown run to get back to 45-25, but that was as close as it would get, as Doak Walker’s 4-yard score put the finishing touches on the win.
“We have a gauntlet at the beginning of the season and that is going to be a good thing for us going forward. We’re facing stiff competition early on so hopefully we’ll be able to build on that and give us some good things to teach from,” Hudler said. “We’ve got a lot of tape we can show them and say ‘Hey, this is how close we were here’ … we were a few plays away and most games, no matter what the score is, there are just a few plays one way or the other, we just didn’t execute as well as we could, but hats off to them, they are a really, really good team.”