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After Durant quarterback Bryce Lafrenz sneaked across the goal line to make the game 14-13 with the extra point pending, it seemed Durant had found enough of a spark bring the game back to a tie. Highland’s Brady Hahn said not so fast.
He burst through between the center and guard on the extra-point attempt and blocked the kick. Giving the Huskies a 1-point lead at 14-13, which became the final score as the Huskies took revenge over Durant, who had won the Class A District 6 title.
“I just knew that their longsnapper was a small guy that was just sticking his arms out,” Hahn said. “On that play I knew if I went hard that I could get it.”
That play was one of many where the Huskies went above and beyond to get the edge against Durant. Highland coach Scott Morel summed it up simply.
“Big time players make big time plays,” he said.
One of those big plays gave the Huskies a boost before halftime. With around three minutes left in the half, Highland defensive lineman Bradley Rodgers and Jack Baker met Lafrenz in the endzone and sacked him for a safety. It was the first points on the board for Highland and gave them the ball down 7-2.
The Huskies failed to get a first down after Hahn attempted to run on a fake punt but was stopped short. Durant threw three times and had to punt from their own territory with 1:09 on the clock.
With time winding down in the half, Hahn found Mason McFarland on a running back pass for a 48-yard touchdown with just three seconds left in the half that put Highland ahead 8-7.
“I knew it was the last play of the half and we had to take a shot, so it was almost guaranteed he was going to throw the ball,” McFarland said.
He said he felt the coverage bearing down on him, but after the catch a Durant defender missed McFarland and went right in front of his face. That put him in a foot race to the endzone, beating out a Durant defender for the score.
“I just remember coming down (with the catch) and I see a black jersey flash through my eyes and next thing I know I’m running into the endzone, it was really just a blur,” McFarland said.
The touchdown gave Highland a big boost of confidence and the lead. The Huskies were also set to receive the ball after the half.
“It was huge. We were going to get shutout offensively in the first half, so I think that really gave us momentum into halftime,” McFarland said.
After halftime, the Huskies went three-and-out on the next drive, but a Durant fumble gave Highland another possession in Durant territory.
The Huskies faced multiple third downs on the drive, converting to keep it alive. Eventually, Trey Lasek went 21-yards on a quarterback keeper for a touchdown. Lasek finished the game with 123 rushing yards on 22 attempts.
On the run, Lasek high-stepped for a couple steps after entering the endzone an a personal foul was called. That moved the Highland extra-point attempt back to the 18-yard line. Brody Burton’s kick fell just short and the score was 14-7, keeping Durant within a touchdown and an extra point.
Just before the end of the third quarter Highland forced another turnover as Jordan Sosa snatched a ball out of the air for an interception.
Highland eventually punted the ball back to Durant with 9 minutes left in the game and a one-score lead. The Durant offense faced a fourth-and-9 early in the drive from their own territory, but a fake punt pass kept the Wildcats alive. Eventually they drove down the field and scored with 3:30 remaining on a 1-yard keeper from Lafrenz.
With the extra-point no good and Durant with just two timeouts remaining, the Huskies needed just two first downs to seal the game. First-down runs from Hahn and a huge gain from Lasek allowed Highland to hold on to the ball until time expired.
“Little plays (made the difference) — getting that safety, the blocked extra point — we just don’t give up,” McFarland.
The win gives Highland their first playoff victory since splitting off from a cooperative football program with Lone Tree following the 2006 season.
Highland now moves on to the quarterfinal round of the playoffs. They have a tall task in front of them as they will travel to No. 1 Hudson next Friday. Hudson defeated Lynnville-Sully 44-22 in the first round.
Highland: 0; 8; 6; 0; 14
Durant: 0; 7; 0; 6; 13
Trey Lasek 7-12 75 yards, 1 INT
Brady Hahn 1-1 48 yards 1 TD
Bryce Lafrenz 16-26, 148 yards 1 TD 1 INT
Trey Lasek 22-123 yards 1 TD
Brady Hahn 10-35 yards
Tristan Hughes 7-33 yards
Bryce Lafrenz 14-28 yards 1 TD
Mason McFarland 2-55 yards 1 TD
Brady Hahn 4-47 yards
Drew Delong 4-33 yards 1 TD
Mason Compton 4-35 yards
Brady Hahn 12 tackles
Jordan Sosa, 3 tackles, 1 INT
Zack Lasek 3.5 tackles 2 sacks
Cole Adamson, 7 tackles, 2 TFL