After a scoreless first half, Waterloo was able to light the scoreboard first but Highland’s dominant defense and running game powered it to a 14-3 Mississippi Valley Conference victory Friday in Waterloo.
With junior quarterback Garrett Marti out with an injury, Highland started sophomore Sam LaPorta, who usually is the team’s primary receiving threat. LaPorta was able to make the switch and directed the offense with plenty of help from senior running back Trent Rakers in the second half as Highland (4-1, 2-0) rallied for its fourth consecutive win.
While Highland now controls its own destiny in the chase for the conference championship, Waterloo (3-2, 1-1) could not pull off a second straight upset after edging Triad 21-14 the previous week.
Rakers was a true workhorse as he carried the ball 30 times for 217 yards. He scored the Bulldogs’ second touchdown with 11:54 to play in the game to cap off the game’s scoring. Rakers raised his season numbers to a team-leading 653 yards and nine TDs on 94 rushing attempts.
Rakers also chalked up 10 total tackles while doubling as a strong safety on defense.
In addition to holding Waterloo to one field goal the entire game, Highland’s defense limited Waterloo to just 156 yards in total yards of offense. HHS stifled WHS’ running game to a paltry 2.79 yards per carry — 81 yards on 29 rushes. Also, Waterloo quarterback Ross Schrader only went 7-for-18 on his passing attempts.
Highland junior linebacker Kyle Lane led the defensive corps with 14 total tackles, 10 of them solos, while Rakers chipped in his 10 (seven solos) and LaPorta added eight total tackles (six solos).
Lane leads HHS with 54 total tackes on 36 solos and 18 tackle assists.
Waterloo’s defense racked up eight sacks on HHS quarterback LaPorta, with Seth Benard ringing up five of them.
WHS’ defense was led in tackles by Logan Kaufman, Ryan Wiggers and Michael Toth, who all had 14 total tackles apiece.
Waterloo opened the second half with a key gamble that paid off, recovering an onside kick and then driving down the field to finally break the scoreless deadlock with kicker Hayden Bender’s 22-yard field goal with 6 minutes, 39 seconds left in the third quarter. A key play was quarterback Ross Schrader converting a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-2 at Highland’s 14-yard line.
But Highland responded on its next possession, putting together a nearly 80-yard drive capped by running back Brady Feldman’s touchdown run from two yards out to push Highland ahead for good at 7-3 with 3:27 remaining in the third quarter.
On Highland’s next possession, Rakers scampered 53 yards to the Waterloo 18 before plunging in a few plays later from the 1-yard line on the first play of the fourth quarter to stake his team to the winning 14-3 advantage.
Highland will host its next two games, both against MVC foes. The Bulldogs will first host Civic Memorial this Friday for homecoming. The Eagles (4-1, 2-0) thumped Mascoutah 44-7 last week. Highland will then host arch rival Triad (4-1, 1-1) the following week.