Highland Park scored 17 unanswered points to erase a two-touchdown deficit on the road Saturday afternoon and beat Central High School 17-14.
The Scots are now 3-1 for the first time since 2017 and have beaten rivals St. Paul Central for the fourth consecutive year.
“I don’t like it when we don’t play to our standards because it makes things tight,” head coach Jonathan Brown said. “But I like resilience. We’ve been resilient all year. Even if we’re not at our best, we find ways to win.
This was surely the case on Saturday afternoon. The Scots offense struggled in the first half as falls and mental errors plagued them and kept them to just 70 total yards.
They started the day with three three outs and turned the ball over on their fourth down after finally converting a first down. On the first play of the second half, senior quarterback Monaire Vaughn threw an interception.
“We just weren’t playing together,” Vaughn. “But we returned it quickly.”
After Central scored on Vaughn’s interception, Highland Park ran the full length of the field and threw a field goal. Two drives later, Vaughn found senior Terez Vaughn on a deep 32-yard touchdown pass.
A quick three-and-a-cross gave the ball back to the Scots and once again the Scots started driving. Highland Park converted a critical 4-and-8 with a nine-yard pass, then Vaughn was able to create another big play, throwing to senior wide receiver Ishmael Powell along the left sideline who caught the pass, rattled a defender and introduced himself. field for a 27-yard touchdown.
The Scots eclipsed 200 yards in the second half alone.
Although the attack came to life in the second half, it was not because of schematic adjustments. Brown said he kept the game plan the same, blaming the poor start on the drops and a lack of containment on defense. Vaughn described it as a “selfish” game of the Scots.
“We ran the same games. The only thing different is that we performed. Everything we thought was there was there, but it’s a different animal when we’re not doing our job,” Vaughn said.
The defense kept Highland Park alive long enough to correct their mistakes. The Minutemen scored in their first practice, but the Scots forced punts in the next two practices before scoring their
first of three interceptions on center quarterback Cole Fee late in the second quarter.
With 2:22 left in the game and Central trying to drive and reclaim the lead, Highland Park had another interception on a knocked down ball. Then, with less than a minute remaining, the Scots took the win with another pick. The Scots defense is averaging 8.5 points against per game.
The comeback win is one that Vaughn said he wasn’t sure earlier versions of the team could have done. Vaughn credited Brown’s 2019 arrival for the Scots with the team’s early-season success.
“My freshman year, we weren’t a family. We had no culture. We didn’t play for each other,” Vaughn said. “We changed that.”
Saturday was the latest example.