Brady Feldmann fumbled the opening kickoff at Waterloo on Friday night but the Highland defense had his back. After a three-and-out stop, Feldmann returned the favor.
The senior running back took a first quarter 16-yard back screen pass from quarterback Jack Etter to the endzone for a touchdown and the Bulldogs never looked back in a 56-14 win.
“Brady doesn’t fumble the ball and that shouldn’t happen again so our mindset was let’s pick him up the next drive and then he picked himself up,” Etter said.
Highland scored five more first-half touchdowns and breezed to the Mississippi Valley Conference victory.
“No one wants to mess us and you have to account for yourself and Brady did a great job of that and we responded as a team as well,” Highland coach Jimmy Warnecke said.
It was the up-tempo passing game that helped get Highland’s offense rolling. Etter connected with Sam LaPorta for a 3-yard touchdown and Dylan Aptken for a 45-yard bomb down the middle of the field to stretch the lead to 21-0 with 1:37 left in the first quarter.
Etter continued to rattle the Waterloo defense through the air in the second quarter as he connected with LaPorta for a pair of 61-yard touchdowns tosses and an 8-yard pass to Jake Kruse.
Etter threw for 290 yards and six touchdowns. LaPorta had four catches for 191 yards. Jacob Willis caught three passes for 79 yards and Aptken had three catches for 61 yards.
“That’s our goal [to play fast],” Etter said. “In practice, we are stressing tempo, tempo. We run plays quick with no breakdowns and more stuff will open up”
Brayton Moss accounted for the other Highland touchdown in the second quarter blitz with a 2-yard run.
Thanks to the second quarter explosion, the Bulldogs held a 49-7 lead at the break which kicked off the mercy rule running clock for the rest of the game.
While the offense was lighting up the board, Highland defense was again wreaking havoc as the Bulldogs did not allow a touchdown until the 3:52 mark of the second quarter when Waterloo’s Dalton Vigalsky hit Jake Wade for a 7-yard TD pass.
“Our defense usually brings is every week,” senior linebacker Devin Wills said. “I’d say we have one of the top defense around but we have a lot of people out there who just work together we just get it done.”
“Our defense is real close to being really there,” Warnecke said.
Warnecke credited senior defensive end Drew Hulvey and senior linebacker Reece May with leading another stout effort for the Bulldog stop crew.
“Each week Drew Hulvey and Reece May, they are the leaders of our defense making plays each week and they are fun to watch,” Warnecke said.
Undefeated Highland (7-0, 4-0 in conference) returns home with a chance to clinch the conference title next week on Friday when they host Mascoutah at 7 p.m.
Waterloo fell to 0-7 (0-4).