DALLAS — Bryse Salik's pass above double coverage and into the outstretched fingertips of Tevin Wofford, Jr. was 11 points and two quarters shy of knocking off the 5A state champions.
It also marked the end of an Indian chance to repeat history.
Dave Campbell's Texas Football state-ranked No. 4 Highland Park High School widened a historical advantage three games and won Friday night's rematch against Waxahachie High School at Highlander Stadium, 32-21.
The loss, which put the Indians 4-7 all-time against Highland Park High School, came despite more than 200 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns — of which 86 and one came during the first two quarters — from senior quarterback Bryse Salik. The Indians defeated the Scots 40-37 in a shootout last season.
Waxahachie (1-1) struck first after stuffing Scot running back Connor Allen 3 yards in the backfield and forcing a three and out. Sparked by Jarreth Sterns' 38-yard completion to junior wide receiver Jhamarian Sargeant, the Indians led a nine-play, 66-yard drive.
Sterns' also scored the first touchdown of the game, capping the drive with a 2-yard rumble into the end zone.
Senior quarterback John Stephen Jones, Highland Park, and their explosive offense completed the first of a pair of first-half rallies minutes later, driving 75 yards down the field in six plays. A 19-yard strike from Jones to Finn Corwin and Jones to Cade Saustad conversion pushed the Scots to an 8-7 advantage.
The next two possessions for the Indians and Scots resulted in a 30-yard punt from Raymond Kennedy and a 29-yard missed field goal by Matteo Cordray, Highland Park's state championship kicker.
Waxahachie rallied to open the second quarter, using a 10-play, 80-yard drive and a 21-yard lofting, back shoulder reception by senior receiver Kevin Green to take a 14-8 lead.
Cordray split the uprights with a 41-yard field goal to the half, but not before Jones hit Corwin Finn streaking down the middle of the field for his second touchdown of the half — and game.
At the half, Highland Park was 57 percent on third down in first half while Waxahachie hovered in the low 40s. The two teams were also separated by 52 total yards at halftime.
The Scots, however, used the next two quarters to extend the lead, putting the finishing touches on a win against a team that gave it one of its two losses last season.
Benner Page, who rushed for 58 yards, scored from the 2-yard line with 3:43 left in the third quarter and after he and 6-foot-5 senior receiver Cade Saustad gashed the Waxahachie defense for 51 yards on back-to-back plays.
Connor Allen, Highland Park's rushing leader after posting 110 yards and a fourth quarter, 1-yard touchdown, gave the Scots a 14-point lead with little more than eight minutes remaining.
Arguably the key play of the second half came after Salik drove the Indian offense down the field with completions to Kevin Green (4 yards), Sterns (24 yards) and Wofford (15 yards) and made a crucial misstep.
On 1st and 10 on Highland Park's 15-yard line, Salik slid right to evade two would-be tacklers, rolled out of the pocket, stepped into his throw, and fired a laser — to Highland Park junior cornerback Nick Morris.
The interception was costly enough to steal time away from a rallying Waxahachie team and put the Indians fingertips away from tying the game and forcing overtime.
While Salik (23-32, 216 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT), finished with a quarterback rating of 97.9, Sterns led Waxahachie in both rushing and receiving with 111 all-purpose yards (71 rush, 40 rec).
Seven different receivers had at least one reception and three had four or more.
Defensively, Caleb High and Demani Richardson led the Indians in tackles. High, a senior middle linebacker, had a strip-sack on Rodgers — one of Waxahachie's many hurries — in the third quarter.
Sophomore Caimyn Lane led the Indians in tackles for loss with two. High, Will Morgan and Matthew Rolen each added a stop in the back field.
Senior cornerback and place kicker Raymond Kennedy hit all three of his point-after attempts and is 12-for-12 this season.
Jones, outside of rushing 12 times for 18 yards and a near touchdown, completed 69 percent of his passes for the Scots. He had a quarterback rating of 131.9.
His 18 completions on 26 attempts for 290 yards and two touchdowns pushed his season yardage to 669 and touchdown total to seven. It also earned him a place atop the UIL 5A passing leaders, ahead of Denton Ryan's Spencer Sanders and Frisco Wakeland's Dylan Cadwallader.
Waxahachie will face Ennis High School at 7:30 p.m. Friday during the Battle of 287 rivalry game at Stuart B. Lumpkins Stadium. The Lions are 0-2 after falling 29-28 to South Oak Cliff on Sept. 1 and 27-23 to John Tyler High on Friday night.
Marcus S. Marion is the sports editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light and Midlothian Mirror. He can be reached by phone at (469) 517-1456 or across social media platforms @MarcusSMarion.