Logan Chandler and the Highland offensive line provided the big plays on offense and the HHS defense took care of the rest as the young Bulldogs took another step in maturation Friday night against arch rival Triad.
Chandler scored three rushing touchdowns and the Bulldogs defense dominated as suddenly red hot Highland took down the Knights 21-7 in a Mississippi Valley Conference contest at Triad High School.
On a chilly night with a muddy middle of the field, the Bulldogs hulking, physical offensive line and Chandler got dirty and pounded on the Triad defensive front.
“We showed a couple of different formations tonight that we haven’t shown and especially our two tight end package I think threw them off just a little bit,” Highland coach Jimmy Warnecke said. “We wanted to spread their box out a little bit because they feed off a tight box with their backside flow and we thought we could really take their ends out of it with covering them up with tight ends.”
That scheme allowed Chandler to run through gaping holes, as he racked up 226 yards rushing on 26 carries.
“The key for me (tonight) was my linemen and my secondary blocking,” Chandler said. “Those are some big boys and I love standing behind them and I get those blocks and I follow them and I lay the hammer down.”
Chandler puts Highland in front
Highland (4-3 overall, 3-1 in the MVC) established Chandler on the first drive, as he scored on a 7-yard touchdown for a 7-0 lead with 5:34 left in the first quarter.
Triad (6-1 overall, 3-1 in the MVC) appeared to tie the score n Logan Wongler’s 5-yard run in the final minute of the first quarter. A holding penalty, however, negated the score and two plays later, the Knights turned the ball over on downs at the Highland 12.
It was one of several frustrating drives for Triad, as the Knights had three other possessions short circuited by two Highland fumble recoveries and a Connor Sands interception just before the end of the first half.
“I told the kids that’s what it feels like to lose a game yourself and not get beat,” Triad coach Paul Basler said. “It was a frustrating game. We made the most mistakes and we were the most undisciplined and we talked about those things coming into the game and not letting our emotions get involved. But they are kids and that stuff happens, so they (Highland) took it at us.”
Chandler hammered the Knights again in the final minute of the first half, dashing 37 yards for a touchdown that made it 14-0.
“I saw that hole open up and I took off and I just started hauling,” Chandler said.
Chandler’s run breaks it open
Late in the third quarter, Chandler broke it open with an eye-popping 65-yard run that pushed the Bulldogs lead to 21-0.
“We’re very fortunate to have the big boys up front and a physical back in Logan Chandler to take care of business in a field situation game like this,” Warnecke said.
Highland’s defense also was dialed in from the start, holding the Knights to just 259 yards of total offense. Liam Gallagher and Eli Jones led the HHS defense with 10 and nine tackles, respectively.
Triad’s lone touchdown came in the final seconds, as Wongler hit Devin Wilkins for a 21-yard touchdown pass. Wonleer led the Knights offense with 132 yards rushing on 25 carries.
Time to celebrate
After recovering the ensuing onside kick, the Highland faithful celebrated the Bulldogs third-straight win since starting 1-3. In the process Highland has positioned itself for another league crown.
“It was little bleak at first being 1-3 and losing three of our first four games but here we are in the driver’s seat next week at home and next we we get ready to play a tough Jerseyville team,” Warnecke said. “I give credit to these boys, they kept faith in the program and each other and they were 1-3 and now we’re 4-3 and have got chance for the conference championship next week.”