Junior Trent Rakers and sophomore quarterback Garrett Marti rushed for 250 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.
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 22 times for 129 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.”
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Marti made all the right decisions in the Bulldogs’ option offense and carried 14 times for 121 yards in addition to completing 7-of-10 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 429 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. 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.
In additition 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 156 yards on 25 attempts. Hill completed 23 for 37 pass attempts for 208 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.
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“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."
Highland will be on the road at Triad while Civic Memorial travels to Waterloo. Both games kick off Friday at 7 p.m.