Highland's Bryce Profitt make a touchdown reception against Revere's Garrett Read during the second quarter. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE)
GRANGER TWP. — The sometimes awesome, sometimes sloppy Highland football team worried coach Mike Gibbons a little bit Friday by failing to put away improved Revere on multiple occasions.
Then superstar running back Jake Rogers scared everyone wearing green and black when he exited with an apparent head injury early in the fourth quarter.
Still, the bottom line was the Hornets finally pulled away to win 35-14, Rogers was smiling with teammates afterward and Highland (4-1, 2-0) remained in first place in the Suburban League American Conference.
Scary or not, that’s all that mattered.
“It’s a great feeling (being 4-1),” wide receiver/outside linebacker Brady Linder said. “It’s a lot of work that we’ve put into this in practice, and we just have to keep getting better every week. The coaches did a great job. We watched a lot of film and just got the dub.”
The Hornets held a 21-7 halftime lead but failed to deliver the knockout blow against the Minutemen (3-2, 0-2) until Linder broke free on a highlight-reel touchdown reception with 6:50 to play.
Earlier in the night, Highland turned the ball over on downs on the Revere 25-yard line and gift-wrapped a short Minutemen scoring drive by fumbling away the second-half kickoff.
The last mistake made the score 21-14, but the defense kept the pressure on Minutemen quarterback Nate Klonowski (10-for-28, 138 yards, TD, 2 INTs) until the offense could right the ship again. Safety Lukas Nemetz’s 54-yard interception return to the 2 finally gave Highland life, as Rogers (20 carries, 147 yards, 3 TDs) scored two plays later to make it 28-14.
Rogers lost a fumble on the Revere 1 later in the quarter before exiting with 11:09 left in the game after being tackled for a 5-yard loss by Garrett Read. Revere tackle Ethan Depp fell on Rogers, and Rogers spent the rest of the game sitting on a bench next to a team doctor with a towel draped around his shoulder pads and an icepack pinned to his left ear.
Gibbons said a hard-to-seal cut behind the ear was why Rogers was pulled.
“I’m proud of these guys,” Gibbons said. “We don’t have a ton of returning guys, but they’re stepping up and making key plays.
Jack McGinty (12 carries, 47 yards; 12-for-19, 140 yards, 2 TDs) and Linder then hooked up to put Highland at ease. On third-and-8, McGinty faked to running back Joey Hammond-Johnson and fired an inside screen to Linder. A defensive back wrapped up the junior, who appeared to be stuffed short of the first down but squirted free along the sideline after four other defenders whiffed within a one-second span.
“I don’t really know what happened,” a smiling Linder said. “I was kind of shocked that I was still up. I just saw the end zone and got there.”
Highland got off to a near textbook start, as Rogers went 53 yards to the house 2:27 in and put the Hornets up 14-0 on a 5-yard run with 3:16 left in the quarter.
Revere answered with a 40-yard bomb from Klonowski to Read, but Highland needed only three minutes to get breathing room again, as Bryce Profitt soared for a 22-yard TD reception in front of the crossbar.
The rest of the night belonged to the defense, which shut out Revere other than the 40-yard pass and turnover-aided scoring drive. Linebackers Jack Myers and Linder, ends Jack Kohmann and Hammond-Johnson and cornerback Charlie Myers, who had a late interception, stood out as the Minutemen wasted a solid effort by all-conference back Matt Buser (10 carries, 74 yards; 5 catches, 67 yards).
“We knew what was coming at us,” Linder said. “We executed well.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Highland 35, Revere 14
REVERE 7 0 7 0 — 14
HIGHLAND 14 7 7 7 — 35
H — Jake Rogers 53 run (Logan Spittle kick), 9:33.
H — Rogers 5 run (Spittle kick), 3:16.
R — Garrett Read 40 pass from Nate Klonowski (Sam Webster kick), 1:48.
H — Bryce Profitt 22 pass from Jack McGinty (Logan Spittle kick), 10:18.
R — Brandon Trocano 2 run (Webster kick), 10:59.
H — Rogers 4 run (Spittle kick), 5:56.
H — Brady Linder 40 pass from Jack McGinty (Spittle kick), 6:50.