Every second matters for Highland Home in 34-33 win over Ariton

Published 4:25 pm Thursday, September 1, 2022

Highland Home’s varsity football took on Ariton on Friday night in what can be called an edge-of-your-seat game where the Flying Squadron swooped in with a last-minute score, securing the win by a single point, 34-33.

Pouncy said there were several opportunities early on.

“We were fortunate to get out with a win, but we also squandered a lot of scoring opportunities early in the game,” he said. “When we were behind by 13 with under five minutes remaining, I just wanted to stress to our guys to keep competing every play to the end. We definitely did that, and I hope it taught our young men a life lesson that anything can happen. I hope we can take this game and be humbled by it moving forward.”

Quarterback Brice McKenzie led Highland Home, going 11-of-33, 213 yards,  three touchdowns, and three interceptions. McKenzie also rushed for 107 yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns.  

Keldric Faulk led the team in  receiving with two catches for  69 yards  and a touchdown.

Cooper Ingram, Javion McMillian, and McKenzie kept the Purple Cats at bay from their spots on Highland Home’s defensive line. Ingram collected 7.5 tackles,4 solo. McKenzie contributed 6 tackles, all solo, while McMillian registered 5.5 tackles, 4 solo, and 1.5 tackles for a loss. 

“This is a really big win for our program,” Pouncey said. “The resilience our guys showed throughout the game is something we as a school and a community are extremely proud of. We have worked extremely hard in the offseason for this exact situation of being able to finish in the 4th quarter.”

Pouncy said his players know they have to compete every day to get better.

“McKenzie, KD Shepherd, and Keldric Faulk made some huge, game-changing plays for us on offense,” Pouncey said. “Austin Norman made, maybe the play of the game, on his big reception in the last drive, and JJ Faulk hauled in the touchdown on 4th down for the win. Cooper Ingram led our defense and had to step in and play some O-line for us on the spot after some crucial injuries. We have way too many people that played a role and I wish I could name our entire roster for the job they did all week in preparation for a great Ariton football team.”

The game came down to the fourth quarter. Highland Home started down by 14, and anyone who counted them out and left early missed a literal fight to the last second. 

With only 3:33 left on the clock, McKenzie was able to push through the Purple Cats’ defense and scored a 1-yard touchdown. KD Shepherd was unable to add the two-point conversion. 

Down by seven, Highland Home scrambled to keep Ariton from moving the chains. Terrin Brown and Cooper Ingram stopped the first play at the line of scrimmage. CJ May made a key stop on second down, leaving Ariton short by 6 yards.Highland Home called a time out with 1:54 remaining after JJ Faulk made a stop on third down.

The Flying Squadron took over the ball. TJ Washington completed a pass by McKenzie for 12-yards, placing Highland Home on their own 42 yard-line. McKenzie and Keldric Faulk gained 9 more yards on the next play. 

Tyler Chaney, sophomore, takes down a Purple Cat. Photo by The Squadron Network

Later in the drive, Highland Home found itself at Ariton’s 10-yard line facing a 4th-and-3, with less than 10 seconds remaining. McKenzie found JJ Faulk in the endzone for a 10-yard  touchdown pass. Keldric Faulk followed with a successful two-point conversion to clinch a  34-33 win. 

Highland Home (2-0) will face off against Goshen (2-0) Friday night at home. The two schools have not played since 2019. The two schools are tied in the all-time series, 29-29.