Blogs / Features
Les WillseyStaff Writer, AIA365.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Highland finds its groove in second half, knocks off GilbertAug 31, 2012
Highland quarterback Blake Young characterized the first half of Friday's game with rival Gilbert an etcha-sketch half.
"It was like it was 0-0 all over," Young said of the 10-10 tie at halftime. "We came out in the second half and just got back into it."
Highland scrambled to tie the game at intermission with a field goal on the final play of the first half, then proceeded to dominate the final 24 minutes behind the play of Young and its defense in a 31-10 win over the Tigers at Gilbert High.
Young a 5-foot-10,170-pound junior, tossed a pair of third-quarter touchdowns and added a clinching 65-yard TD run early in the final quarter to send Gilbert to a second consecutive loss. Highland advanced to 2-0 on the season and has won six of its last seven games dating back to last season.
"Blake is growing exponentially each week," Wahlheim said. "He's a great leader, and part of the good team chemistry we have."
Neither team looked sharp in the first half in what was a strange first half. The teams combined for 80 yards in penalites in the opening period and 88 yards of offense in battling to a 0-0 tie. The 10-10 tie at half saw all the points scored in the final five minutes of the second quarter. Gilbert getting a scoring pass from quarterback Connor Helvig to wide out Maurice Thomas and a field goal from Austin Carver. Highland's scores were a 77-yard TD pass from Young to Billy Johnson and a field goal by Noah Miller.
"With the all the penalties it was hard for both teams to get into a flow," Highland coach Pete Wahlheim said. "I think our coaches did a great job of of making adjustments in the second half. We played a much better game the second half. Still have a things to work on, but a good second half."
Highland went to work early in the third period trying to snare the lead. The Hawks marched inside the Gilbert 20 only to lose a fumble that thwarted their opening drive. Highland got the ball back quickly and with great field position after a short punt at the Gilbert 27. Six plays later Young tossed the first of two TD passes in the period to receiver Colin Gardner for a 17-10 lead.
Gilbert, which fumbled on successive series in the third quarter that helped stymie its ability to march, punted again after its next possession. Young victimized Gilbert again, lofting a 23-yard TD pass to Gardner to make it 24-10 with 23 seconds left in the third period.
Young finished the night completing 8-of-14 passes for 179 yards. He rushed for 102 yards in the second half and totaled 109 on the ground for the contest. His 65-yard TD run with 9:35 left in the game finished off the Tigers leaving coach Leland Rodgers and his staff to look for their first win next week at Mesa High.
"Gilbert played very physical defense," Wahlheim said. "More physical than we expected, and more than they showed last week. We played more like we're capable in the second half."