Highlands holds off Indiana with late stop
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Highlands tailback Elijah Jackson scored his third touchdown of the game with 46 seconds left.
But there was no time for celebrating.
The Golden Rams had to force an incomplete Indiana pass in the end zone on the game's final play to emerge with a 21-14 victory Friday night at Andy Kuzneski Field.
The win gave Highlands a 4-1 Greater Allegheny Conference mark at the season's midway point.
Highlands stopped Indiana on fourth down five times.
Indiana (2-3, 2-3) had tied the game at 14-14 with 4:52 remaining on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Sean Thompson to Riley Stapleton.
The Indians had to try a two-point conversion after both of their touchdowns because kicker Ian Scott was ejected during a chippy exchange with the Golden Rams from his running back position in the first half.
Stapleton caught the touchdown and conversion toss from Thompson. But Highlands drove 57 yards in nine plays to retake the lead.
Jackson ran it in on third-and-4 from the Indiana 9, pulling away from a pair of defenders near the goal line.
Highlands coach Sam Albert said Sam Elliott would have tried a field goal had Jackson come up short of the first down.
“I have confidence in Sammy. We would have set up for a field goal, but we didn't have to make that decision,” Albert said. “I was proud of the kids, how they played during that drive.”
After Elliott's extra point, Thomson drove the Indians downfield, using sideline patterns to Stapleton and Temple recruit Darrious Carter to stop the clock.
With three seconds left and the ball at the Highlands 15, Thompson eluded a rush by defenders Weston Bernath, Allan Cratsenberg and Robert Love.
Thompson got the pass away toward the corner of the end zone, but the ball went off Carter's fingertips.
“I'm proud of the way we played tonight. I think we jelled as a football team,” Indiana coach Mark Zilinskas said.
“I think we served notice that we can play with anybody in the conference. That's a good football team we played. It was so close. ”
Jackson scored on Highlands' first possession.
The Indiana defense adjusted after that series, holding the Golden Knights without a first down until the final play of the third quarter.
Keldon Spicher put the Indians on the scoreboard with a 13-yard run midway through the third quarter, but the conversion pass failed.
Jackson scored his second touchdown with 7:51 to go, picking up three of his game-high 158 yards.
But Albert was most happy with how his cornerbacks — Jackson at 5-foot-7 and Will Burris at 5-9 — played Indiana receivers Stapleton and Carter, both of whom stand 6-5.
“I preach that it's not about getting knocked down; it's about whether you're getting up or not,” Albert said.
“Wouldn't you know, I get a letter from Temple University that said the same thing when I opened it.”
Thompson finished with 175 passing yards — including 45 on the final possession — after completing 16 of 34 attempts.
George Guido is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- HS highlight reel: Pair of title games to be on tape delay Saturday
- PIAA Class AA first-round preview: Karns City vs. Bedford
- Alle-Kiski Valley football notebook: Aliquippa stymies Freeport passing attack
- Jeannette football prepare for Class A championship game
- TJ-Central Valley football powers to clash at Heinz Field
- Aliquippa routs Freeport to return to Heinz Field
- Gorman: Teams running to Heinz Field
- Karns City again captures District 9 crown
- No. 5 Central Catholic ‘returns’ to title game with win over Woodland Hills
- Late touchdown lifts Penn-Trafford into WPIAL Class AAAA title game
- Gorman: Class A final opens doors