Stepp's Top 10 Texas High School Football Games of the Decade: No. 2 - Highland Park 53, Manvel 49 (2017)

Photo by Russell Wilburn

December 22, 2017

Highland Park 53, Manvel 49

Heavily favored Manvel was picked by most to roll past the defending state champions as the Mavericks' roster was loaded with FBS talent and looked nearly unstoppable.

Well, they were unstoppable for the most part, but Highland Park’s offense was full of late game magic in what many feel is the greatest Texas high school football game ever played.

Both defenses played relatively well in the first half, but Manvel’s big plays proved to be the difference as Kason Martin had a pair of long touchdown passes to Jalen Preston and Terrence Norman that helped Manvel take a 21-10 lead at the break.

The third quarter would be played to a near draw as the two powers went back and forth. Highland Park opened the second half with a Paxton Alexander touchdown run and subsequent two point conversion to cut the Manvel lead to 21-18.

Martin and Preston followed with a seven-yard touchdown pass that pushed Manvel's lead to 28-18. HPHS cut the lead back to three when Jay Smith hauled in a four-yard touchdown pass from QB John Stephen Jones, only to see Manvel answer on the ensuing drive when Martin found Colbey Washington for a 62-yard touchdown pass to put the Mavericks up 35-25 heading into the fourth. 

Highland Park, though, answered at the start of the final quarter when Page Benner scored from six-yards out to make it 35-32. But Manvel had the big play anticdote as Martin and Preston connected from 95-yards out to give Manvel the 42-32 lead.

With 6:42 left in the game, Highland Park again cut the lead back to three as Cade Saustad hauled in a nine-yard touchdown from Jones to make it 42-39 Manvel, but Kam Scott delivered what many thought was the dagger as he returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown to give Manvel a 49-39 lead.

Highland Park then marched 87 yards in seven plays on the next drive to cut the Manvel lead back to three as Jones scored on a 1-yard run with 2:06 left to make it 49-46.

Things then got wild down the stretch as Highland Park’s Saustad recovered the onside kick giving Highland Park the ball back with a chance to grab the lead.

Manvel had Highland Park stopped on 4th and 15, but a sensational throw from Jones to Finn Corwin picked up 28 yards and kept the Scots' title hopes alive. Two plays later Jones and Saustad hooked up for a 16-yard touchdown pass to give Highland Park its first lead of the night at 53-49.

But Manvel wasn't about to go down quietly.

Martin completed two passes for 41 yards to get the Mavericks to the Highland Park 31 with 14 seconds left. On the game’s final play, Martin found Preston around the goal line for a 30-yard gain, but the Highland Park defense wouldn’t allow the Manvel star to reach for the end zone and the game ended with Manvel at the Highland Park 1-yard line.

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