Mistakes plague Highlanders in loss

Scott High's Mason Tucker hauls in a touchdown pass during the Highlanders' 30-7 loss to Karns on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. (LeEtta Boyatt/IH)
Scott High's Mason Tucker hauls in a touchdown pass during the Highlanders' 30-7 loss to Karns on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. (LeEtta Boyatt/IH)

HUNTSVILLE — The box score told a story of two evenly-matched teams when Scott High and Karns collided on homecoming night here Friday.

But the box score only told half the story of the Beavers’ 30-7 win over the Highlanders.

Scott (1-5) had only three fewer first downs than Karns (2-4), rolled up over 200 rushing yards and finished with only 70 fewer yards of total offense than the Beavers, and limited Karns to three of 10 on third down tries.

But the Highlanders had three of their first six possessions end in turnovers, had a blocked punt on a seventh possession, and suffered through a series of costly penalties.

“Our kids played as hard as they could. We just continually made errors that proved to be insurmountable at the end of the day,” Scott coach Keith Shannon said. “They were self-inflicted. That’s hard to swallow.”

Karns quarterback Daniel Kitts was efficient through the air, completing 12 of 17 passes for 144 yards and four touchdowns. Six of those receptions and three of the touchdowns went to Thomas Harper. When the Beavers ran the ball, they usually turned to Teahzjawon HodgeHarper, who finished with 139 yards on 24 carries.

“Karns had an unbelievable running back. They had an unbelievable wide receiver,” Shannon said. “Our kids scrapped and fought. They got some stops and some stands here and there. At the end of the day, there have been a couple of instances where games have gotten away from us and I think this one fits into that category.”

The Beavers marched 78 yards in seven plays for a touchdown on their first possession, then turned a Highlander turnover and a short field into a second score to go ahead 14-0. A three-and-out by Scott led to a Karns field goal to make it 17-0 before the first quarter ended.

The Highlanders were finally able to put together a touchdown drive to climb back into the game, then had a chance to cut the margin further after turning in a stand on defense. But an interception led to a Karns score. That was followed by another Karns score on the second half kickoff, which was followed by another interception by the Highlanders.

“We continually shot ourselves in the foot. And then we reloaded the gun and shot the other foot,” Shannon said. “It’s all of those things rolled into a bad game. That’s what it comes down to. We’re disappointed but we’re not going to wallow in it. We’re going to shake it off, go back to work and come back next week.”

Grainger Smith completed six of nine passes for 40 yards and a touchdown, while adding 57 yards on the ground. Eli Smith rushed for 63 yards on 10 carries, and Mason Tucker had a touchdown catch for a second consecutive week.

But Karns’ defense made stops when it mattered most.

Scott picked up one first down on the game’s opening possession before being forced to punt, and Karns wasted little time getting started. The Beavers covered 78 yards in seven plays, with Kitts and Harper hooking up for a 37-yard touchdown.

Two plays later, Scott fumbled the ball back to Karns, and the Beavers used seven more plays to find the end zone again, scoring on a 23-yard pass from Kitts to Harper.

After a 24-yard field goal gave Karns a 17-0 lead, the Highlanders began to move the football. Scott converted three third downs before Smith and Tucker hooked up for a 15-yard touchdown to cap a 71-yard drive, cutting Karns’ lead to 17-7.

The Highlanders’ defense then turned in a big stop, with Mason Owens making a key third down tackle to force a punt. That gave Scott an opportunity to trim the deficit further, but Karns came up with an interception on a trick play, and converted the turnover into points when Kitts found Drew Weaver for a 23-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the first half.

Karns got the ball first to start the second half, and scored again to essentially put the game out of reach. Kitts and Harper hooked up for the third time, this time from nine yards out, to push the lead to 30-7, which is where it would stay.

The Highlanders drove successfully back down the field, but an interception in the end zone on fourth-and-goal ended the scoring threat.

From there, Scott’s defense began to turn in some stops. First, the Highlanders forced Karns into a 45-yard field goal attempt, which was missed. Then, after Karns blocked a punt and took over at the Highlanders’ six-yard-line, Scott turned in an impressive goal line stand, knocking HodgeHarper down just short of the goal line on fourth down.

But Karns did not allow Scott’s offense to threaten again. Shannon said the outcome was disappointing. “But it is what it is,” he added. “We’ll keep working, keep putting our nose to the grindstone come Monday.”

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