HS Football: The Woodlands falls short to Hightower

By: JD Hurd II
| Published 10/17/2020


THE WOODLANDS, TX -- The final non-district game for The Woodlands came down to the wire on Friday night. The Hightower Hurricanes survived a last-minute push by The Woodlands to hang on to a 28-25 victory over the Highlanders.

The Hurricanes were able to take the win behind a tough running game and timely takeaways on defense. RB Charles Shelling led the way with 95 yards rushing and two TDs. DB Julian Payne picked off the Highlanders twice in the win.

It was Shelling and the Hurricanes who put together an impressive drive on the ground to score the game’s opening touchdown. Shelling’s two-yard TD gave Hightower a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.

After a 30-yard field goal from Highlanders kicker Trey Harrison and a stop on defense, The Woodlands took their first lead of the game midway through the second quarter. WR Cade Moore set up The Woodlands with a first and goal on the three-yard line with a great 35-yard catch and run. QB Connor Dechiro’s QB sneak was successful three plays later to take a 10-7 lead with 5:32 to go in the half. Hightower responded with a 13-play drive capped by QB Jakolby Longino’s one-yard rushing TD.

WR Teddy Knox turned a screen into a 28-yard gain to give The Woodlands a chance to re-take the lead right before halftime, but Julian Payne picked off QB Connor Dechiro at the one-yard line to send Hightower into the locker room with the 14-10 lead.

The Woodlands marched down the field with the opening possession of the second half. Big gains from Knox and RB Lane O’Brien set up O’Brien’s three-yard TD run to give the Highlanders their second lead of the night at 17-14. Knox finished with four catches for 58 yards and another 30 yards rushing. O’Brien recorded 89 yards and a TD on 17 carries.

Turnovers were the difference-maker in this close game. The Woodlands turned the ball three times on Friday night. The second stopped the Highlanders from extending their lead in the third quarter. DL Kyshun Smith picked off a screen pass in Highlanders’ territory to give Hightower a short field to work with. Three plays later, Longino completed a 23-yard TD pass to WR Caleb Douglas to take a 21-17 lead. Longino went 10 for 20 for 128 yards passing and one TD.

The Woodlands had another opportunity to take the lead after a botched punt turned Hightower over on downs at their 42-yard line. However, Julian Payne picked off the Highlanders once again. Hightower cashed in on the turnover with another goal-line TD to take a 28-17 lead with under three minutes to go.

The Woodlands made things interesting with a late 21-yard TD pass from Connor Dechiro to WR Jack Calhoun, followed by a Teddy Knox two-point conversion. However, Hightower recovered the ensuing onside kick to secure their first win of the year.

The Woodlands falls to 1-2 with the loss heading into an open week. The Highlanders will open district play with a trip to Willis on October 30.

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