Junior Trent Rakers and sophomore quarterback Garrett Marti rushed for 256 combined yards, the Highland defense shut down a potent Civic Memorial offense in four trips to the red zone and the Bulldogs came out on top in a battle of unbeatens.
Highland’s 35-27 win over Civic Memorial sets up a Week 7 Mississippi Valley Conference showdown with Triad, which also improved to 6-0 on Friday night. The game will most likely decide which team will hoist the conference crown this season.
Rakers started in place of senior running back Andrew Winning, who found out this week that his season was ended with a torn ACL in his left knee. The junior rushed 21 times for 134 yards and three touchdowns.
“He is the most conditioned kid on the team, I guarantee you, but to carry the kind of work load he does on both sides of the ball is tough,” said Highland coach Jimmy Warnecke. “He was gassed, but still running hard.”
Marti made all the right decisions in the Bulldogs’ option offense and carried 15 times for 122 yards in addition to completing 6-of-8 pass attempts with a touchdown. He was knocked out of the game late in the fourth quarter and had to be removed by ambulance on a backboard. His condition isn’t known, but it is believed the immobilization measures were mostly precautionary, Warnecke said.
“What a sophomore quarterback did in a big game like this, making the decisions he made and running as he did was incredible,” Warnecke said. “I don’t see him making many wrong reads. We’re hoping he can come back, but we’ll see.”
Civic Memorial had 423 yards offense, but the Highland defense made several big stops.
Highland held a 21-14 when the Eagles drove to the Bulldogs 17-yard line. On fourth down, Seth Levad intercepted an Adam Hill pass to end the drive.
On its first possession of the second half, Civic Memorial made another bid to tie, driving all the way to the Bulldog 4. A John Whitworth run to the end zone was called back on a holding penalty and Highland stopped the Eagles on three plays from the 21-yard line. The Bulldogs turned the stop into a 79-yard scoring drive.
A fourth Civic Memorial drive deep into Highland territory was stopped when Whitworth, who broke a thumb in the first half, fumbled on the Bulldogs’ 13.
Senior linebackers Sam Teipe and Seth Levad led the defensive charge for Highland which forced three Eagle turnovers. Teipe lined up 18 total tackles, including 13 solos, and recovered a fumble while Levad recorded 13 total tackles (eight solos) and intercepted his third pass of the season.
In addition, senior linebacker Zeke Kaufman registered 10 total tackles (seven solos) and recovered fumble.
“I knew our defense would be solid this year, but the way some of these guys are stepping up and making plays makes it fun to watch this defense. I’m so proud of them,” Warnecke said.
In addition to big games by Rakers and Marti, Highland fullback Austin Nix picked up 31 clock-killing yards on nine fourth-quarter carries, including a touchdown.
For Civic Memorial, Whitworth led all ball carriers with 153 yards on 24 attempts. Hill completed 22 for 33 pass attempts for 212 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also ran for 31 yards on 11 carries. Wide receiver Justin Twyford caught nine passes for 100 yards including a touchdown on the last play of the game.
Highland will be on the road this Friday at Triad while Civic Memorial travels to Waterloo. Both games kick off Friday at 7 p.m.
Highland 35, Civic Memorial 27
Civic Memorial— John Whitworth 8-yard run (Colin Hall kick), 5:02
Highland — Trent Rakers 1-yard run (kick failed), 11:54
Highland — Trent Rakers 2-yard run (Zeke Kaufman), 8:24
Civic Memorial — David Lane 3-yard pass from Adam Hill (Colin Hall kick), 6:06
Highland — Jimmie Smith 28-yard pass from Garrett Marti (Zeke Kaufman kick), 2:04
Highland — Austin Nix 1-yard run (Zeke Kaufman kick), 11:30
Civic Memorial — Zach Williams 12-yard run (Colin Hall kick), 8:53
Highland — Trent Rakers 12-yard run (Zeke Kaufman kick), 4:51
Civic Memorial — Tim Klocke 16-yard pass from Adam Hill (No kick), 0:00
RUSHING — Trent Rakers 21-134, Garrett Marti 15-122, Austin Nix 7-29, Jimmie Smith 1-5. Totals: 44-290.
PASSING — Garrett Marti 6-8 82. Totals: 6-8 82.
RECEIVING — Jimmie Smith 3-30, Sam LaPorta 2-36, Trent Rakers 1-16. Totals: -82.
SOLO TACKLES — Sam Teipe 13, Seth Levad 8, Zeke Kaufman 7, Kyle Lane 6, Paxton VonderHaar 6, Justin Haase 5, Austin Bush 4, Colton VonderHaar 4, Josh Burke 4, Trent Rakers 2, Landon Hopkins 2, Jimmie Smith 1, Nick Vidmar 1. Totals: 63.
TACKLE ASSISTS — Sam Teipe 5, Seth Levad 5, Kyle Lane 5, Austin Bush 5, Colton VonderHaar 4, Zeke Kaufman 3, Paxton VonderHaar 3, Justin Haase 3, Josh Burke 2, Trent Rakers 2, Cody Zobrist 2. Totals: 38.
QUARTERBACK SACKS: Josh Burke 1, Austin Bush 1. Totals: 2.
INTERCEPTIONS — Seth Levad 1. TOTALS: 1.
FUMBLE RECOVERIES — Sam Teipe 1, Zeke Kaufman 1. Totals: 2.
HIGHLAND DEFENSIVE RETURNS — 0. TOTALS: 0.
HIGHLAND KICKOFF RETURNS — Dylan Shaw 2-59, Jimmie Smith 1-14, Paxton VonderHaar 1-13. Totals: 4-86.
HIGHLAND PUNT RETURNS — 0. Totals: 0