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 to 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.
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 Civic Memorial next week for homecoming while Waterloo will host Jerseyville.