Highland junior running back Brady Feldman ran for 92 yards and four touchdowns as the Bulldogs went on for a 45-0 win Friday over Quincy Notre Dame in a first-round Class 4A playoff game.
Champion of the Mississippi Valley Conference and the No. 2 seed in its half of the Class 4A bracket, Highland (10-0) scored twice in its first six offensive plays to set the tone.
Feldman highlighted a four-play, 74-yard drive with a 26-yard touchdown run just 1:34 into the game to give the Bulldogs a quick 7-0 lead.
Seven minutes later, senior quarterback Garrett Marti connected with Sam LaPorta on a 29-yard touchdown pass to extend the Highland lead to 14-0. The run-oriented Raiders (5-5) never challenged.
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“We felt like we had a point to prove tonight. We wanted to prove that we are the best team in our half of the bracket,” Feldman said. “The line did a tremendous job, and the defense had the big stop in the early part of the game. That gave us a lift, and we just took it from there.”
Highland will take on the winner of the Manteno-Effingham game, which will played Saturday. If seven-seeded Effingham wins, the game will be played at Highland. A win by 10-seeded Manteno would send the Bulldogs on the road.
Going against what he has done all year, Highland football coach Jimmy Warnecke elected for his team to receive the opening kickoff. That strategy paid off as Highland scored on its opening drive.
Notre Dame followed with an impressive drive of its own. With Dalton Venvertloh rushing for 42 yards, the Raiders took the ball inside the Highland 5-yard line. But the Bulldogs defense stopped Venvertloh on a fourth-down play at the 4-yard line.
On the next play, Marti, ran 66 yards to the Raiders 29. After catching his breath, the Bulldogs quarterback connected with LaPorta on a 29-yard touchdown pass to make the score 14-0.
“Usually we will kickoff and take the football to start the second half,” Warnecke said of the opening sequence. “The reason we changed tonight was that I wanted to get off to a fast start, and I didn’t want them (Notre Dame) to take the opening drive down the field and score on us.
“They moved the football on the first drive, but our defense came up with a huge stop.”
Feldman added his second touchdown of the night — a 2-yard run — to increase the lead to 21-0 at halftime.
Highland put the game away with three third-quarter scores. Marti, who finished the night 11 of 12 for 228 yards, connected with Jacob Willis on a 22-yard scoring play, and Feldman added his final two scores.
LaPorta also had a big night for Highland with five catches for 142 yards.