HUNTSVILLE | Late in the first quarter of Friday’s season-opener against Coalfield, Scott High had all the momentum. Up 13-7, the Highlanders intercepted a pass and appeared to return it 65 yards for a score and a two-touchdown lead.
But a block in the back penalty from well behind the play took the touchdown off the board, and things were never the same after that, as Coalfield rolled to a 55-13 rout of the Highlanders to start the Chris Harris era at Scott High.
Landon Griffith’s interception of a Cole Hines pass came at a time when Scott appeared to have Coalfield on the ropes. After the Yellow Jackets had struck early with a long pass that set up a one-yard touchdown run by Hines, the Highlanders answered with a 13-yard run by Brady Strunk on fourth down. Scott then rolled the dice, attempting an onside kick that was recovered by Rylan Griffin. Just a couple of plays later, Griffin got behind Coalfield’s secondary for a 64-yard touchdown strike from Strunk. By the time Griffith loped into the end zone with his interception of a Hines pass, the Highlanders were rolling.
But the second quarter was nothing less than a meltdown. Hines had a quarter he’ll never forget, throwing for five touchdown passes. Most of those TDs were to wide-open receivers, as Scott’s secondary repeatedly suffered breakdowns in coverage.
Along the way, Scott High twice failed to field Coalfield kickoffs, giving the Yellow Jackets free possessions that turned into more points.
With five minutes to play in the second quarter, the Highlanders trailed by only a point, 14-13. Just five minutes later — on the game clock, at least; in reality, it seemed like an eternity — Coalfield led 41-13 and was in complete control.
Hines’ second quarter touchdown strikes covered four yards, 17 yards, 24 yards, 32 yards and 76 yards.
Things wouldn’t get any better in the second half. In fact, the Highlander offense — which moved the ball so well on its first two possessions — couldn’t get on track once Coalfield’s defense got dialed in. Strunk was repeatedly sacked and spent most called passing plays running for his life.
A telling statistic: In the second half, Scott High had one first down and four personal foul penalties.
Coalfield finished with 542 yards of total offense, while limiting Scott High to 209 yards. The Yellow Jackets were especially impressive on third down, converting 6 of 8 on offense while limiting the Highlanders to just 1 of 9 on defense.
Hines had a career day, completing 17 of 23 passes for 358 yards and five touchdowns, while scoring two more touchdowns on the ground.
Jaiden Bunch had seven rushing attempts for 81 yards and a score.
For the Highlanders, Strunk completed 6 of 12 passes for 110 yards.
The Highlanders’ ground game was led by Will Young. The senior finished with 75 yards on eight carries, but left the game in the fourth quarter with a knee injury. The extent of his injury was not immediately clear. But if Young — who missed most of his junior season with a knee injury — is required to miss significant time, it will be a huge blow for the Highlanders, who have perilously little depth at the running back position. Young’s backup is a freshman.
As for penalties, Scott High was penalized 12 times for 120 yards. None of them may have been bigger than the block in the back in the second quarter. In hindsight, it was quite a momentum-flipper.