By Dave Malaska
Highlands overcame a shaky start to keep its hopes of a perfect season alive, beating Paducah Tilghman, 42-25, Saturday night.
The Bluebirds (5-0), on the road for the second straight week, were held scoreless in the first quarter but stormed back with 21 points in the second to start to edge away.
The Blue Tornado went up 6-0 on a pair of field goals before Highlands scored twice, first on a 6-yard Drew Houliston run then on a 7-yard strike from Houliston to junior receiver Jensen Feggins in the second quarter.
Tilghman pulled close when senior Trevante Coleman broke off an 80-yard touchdown run midway through the quarter before the Bluebirds opened the gap on Houliston's second touchdown pass of the night, a 7-yard toss to Jake Whitford. They led at the half, 21-12.
Jaylen Hayes scored two rushing touchdowns in the second half to seal the win. Hayes, a senior, finished with 154 yards on 20 carries and two scores. He's scored 15 touchdowns on the season, 10 of them rushing. Feggins led Highlands' receivers with six catches for 108 yards and another two touchdowns.
Houliston, who entered the game with a 70 percent completion rate, connected on 16 of 26 attempts against Tilghman for 266 yards, pushing his season total to 1,547 yards. His two touchdown throws Saturday pushed his season total to 20.
Highlands out-produced the Blue Tornado, 375-314, on offense.
The Bluebirds are on the road again next week, but much closer to home. Covington Catholic hosts them at 1 p.m. Saturday. Highlands beat the Colonels twice last season, 35-21 midseason and 28-13 in the playoffs.
Highlands will be going for its 39th straight win against Kentucky teams, and its 88th win in its last 89 games against state programs.
at TILGHMAN 6-6-7-6—25
T—Besaw 26 field goal
T—Besaw 42 field goal
H—Houliston 6 run (Dougherty kick)
H—Feggins 7 pass from Houliston (Dougherty kick)
T—Coleman 80 run (pass failed)
H—Whitford 7 pass from Houliston (Dougherty kick)
T—Dunigan 1 run (Besaw kick)
H—Hayes 8 run (Dougherty kick)
T—Tyler 21 passs from Dunigan (pass failed)
H—Feggins 9 pass from Houliston (Dougherty kick)
H—Hayes 41 run (Dougherty kick)
RECORDS: Highlands 5-0, Tilghman 1-4.
WALTON-VERONA 41, GRANT COUNTY 20 — The Bearcats jumped out to a 28-0 lead at home before Grant County could get on the scoreboard. Walton's highlights included a blocked punt that senior Seth Burgett returned 15 yards for one score and a 54-yard rumble by junior running back William Lattimore for another.
GRANT CO. 0-0-14-6—20
at W.-VERONA 21-7-13-0—41
WV—W. Lattimore 38 run (Hoffa kick)
WV—Burt 23 pass from Kline (Hoffa kick)
WV—Compton 2 run (Hoffa kick)
WV—Burgett 15 punt block return (Hoffa kick)
GC—Knipp 5 run (Kinman kick)
WV—W. Lattimore 54 run (Hoffa kick)
WV—C. Lattimore 3 run (pass failed)
GC—Lawson 3 run (Kinman kick)
GC—Knipp 5 urn (kick no good)
RECORDS: Walton-Verona 4-1, Grant County 1-4.