Previous to the opening of this game, Highland high school shot off fireworks in celebration of homecoming. The Highland Hawk offense wasted little time as it shot off some fireworks of its own on the opening drive against 5A #2 Chandler. On the first play of scrimmage, running behind 310 pound guard Richard Tuitu'u, RB Wesley Orth shot up the middle for an eleven yard gain. This play, at first, did not seem like much but it set the tone for the Hawks dominating the line of scrimmage the entire night. Later in the drive, Highland QB Ryan Fair hit Orth with a well timed shovel pass that Orth then turned into a twenty-three yard gain. With the run game established, and looking at 2nd and 8 on the ten yard line Highland coach Preston Jones calls for a play action pass. QB Fair, after a great play fake, then hits TE Shaun Fitzpatrick for a TD pass. PAT good Highland 7 Chandler 0.
Later in the quarter, with Chandler on their heels Highland again moves the ball to the Chandler two yard line but on 4th and 1 the vaunted Chandler D holds and takes over on downs. Chandler escapes the 1st quarter lucky to be down only 7 to 0.
The second quarter begins with the teams exchanging punts as the defenses for both teams made it difficult for the other teams O. Chandler is finally able to gain decent field position after and interception of a Highland pass. On the ensuing drive, Chandler's Reno Blomquist takes off for twelve yards. Two plays later Chandler QB Brad Johnson hits WR Shawn Clawson on a thirty-five yard TD strike.
PAT good Highland 7 Chandler 7. Highland is able to move the ball on the next possession but is forced to try a long field goal that falls short. Chandler takes over and takes a knee to let the time run out of the first half with the score still 7 to 7.
The second half begins with the teams trading punts and jockeying for field position. Chandler forces Highland to punt from their own end zone thus giving Chandler good field position on the Highland forty-yard line. Chandler moves the ball, but gets in a 4th and 2 position. Getting in Power I and running blast, Chandler's attempt for a first down is stuffed by the Highland D. Highland uses the momentum from this stop to help power a drive into Chandler territory. Using the run game to again set up a nice play action pass, QB Ryan Fair hits quick Raphael Mack on a flair pass that comes off of sweep motion, for a big gain. Three plays later Jr. RB John Hershberger pops up the middle for a fifteen-yard TD run. PAT good Highland 14 Chandler 7.
In the fourth quarter, Chandler puts together its best drive of the night. A variety of runs from Blomquist, timely passing from Johnson, and a facemask penalty has Chandler threatening. After a ten yard burst by Blomquist, Chandler has the ball 1st and goal on the Highland five. On 1st down Chandler lines up in power I and gets three, 2nd down power I blast left no gain, 3rd down power I blast right no gain. This sets up 4th and goal on the two-yard line. Again from power I, Chandler test the center of the Horizon D only to have the trio of Richard Tuitu'u, Kris Stone and John Hershberger not only stuff Blomquist but force a fumble!! Highland takes over, gets behind its O line and proceeds to run the ball for first downs and run out the clock. Final score Highland 14 Chandler 7
Bottom Line: Highland is now in the Fiesta driver's seat. They have used the formula of tough D, good run game and timely play action passing to knock off previously unbeaten Hamilton and Chandler in successive weeks. Highland is playing great ball at the right time of the season.
Game Balls: The Highland O line ruled the LOS!! Highland got run yards consistently, and gave QB Ryan Fair lots of time on play action fakes. Richard Tuitu'u moved from left guard to right guard in certain situations for plays Highland needed. For Chandler, Reno Blomquist plays as hard as any one I have seen this season.