Highland Park wins second straight Texas 5A-1 title with wild 53-49 win

Mitch Stephens | MaxPreps.com Friday, December 22, 2017

Grandson of Jerry Jones — John Stephen Jones — throws for a Texas championship game record of 564 yards and four touchdowns, including game-winner with 34 seconds left, Highland Park's only lead of contest that features 1,301 yards.

Video: John Stephens Jones highlights
Watch the grandson of Jerry Jones star in Highland Park's playoff-opening victory over Texas.


Even in the great high school football state of Texas, they'll be talking about this one for a very long time.

John Stephen Jones, the grandson of Jerry Jones, fired a 16-yard touchdown to Cade Saustad with 34 seconds left, lifting Highland Park (Dallas, Texas) to a remarkable 53-49 Texas 5A-1 title game win over heartbroken Manvel before 24,975 fans at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.

The winning score was the first lead of the game for Highland Park (15-1), which claimed its second straight state title and fifth overall. None could have been more thrilling in this back-and-forth scoring onslaught that according to the Dallas Morning News accounted for 1,301 yards.
John Stephen Jones (9) is pursued by Kori Roberson (93).
Photo by Robbie Rakestraw
John Stephen Jones (9) is pursued by Kori Roberson (93).
Jones completed 37 of 58 passes for a Texas championship game record of 564 yards and accounted for five touchdowns, four passing. Three of them went to Saustad, who set a UIL record for receiving yards (220) to go along with 12 catches. He also recovered an onside kick which set up the winning score.  

Highland Park was just trying to match the fireworks supplied by Kason Martin (16 of 30, 483 yards, five touchdowns) and after a 9-yard TD pass from Jones to Saustad cut the lead to 42-39 with 6:42 left, Manvel seemed to have delivered the final knockout blow.

Kam Scott returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, giving Manvel back a 10-point cushion, 49-39.
Kam Scott scored two touchdowns, including 97-yard kickoff return that gave Manvel 10-point lead in middle of the fourth quarter.
Photo by Robbie Rakestraw
Kam Scott scored two touchdowns, including 97-yard kickoff return that gave Manvel 10-point lead in middle of the fourth quarter.
But Jones finished off a long drive with a 1-yard TD run, making it 49-46 with 2:06 remaining. Then Highland Ranch recovered an onside kick, setting up the game-winning touchdown, a short crossing route that was Jones' fourth TD pass and third to Saustad.

The Scots needed to complete a fourth-and-15 play on the final drive. Jones delivered with a 28-yard completion to Finnegan Corwin.

Even with just 34 seconds left, this one was not done. Like it had done all game, Manvel drove down field quickly but a 30-yard reception from Martin to Jalen Preston (5 catches, 220 yards, three touchdowns) came up 1-yard short on the game's final play.

Both teams left it all on the field.

Preston, a Texas A&M commit, tied Saustad with the most prolific receiving games in UIL championship game history. Highland Ranch finished with 661 total yards. Manvel had 640. The Mavericks averaged 30.1 yards per reception and 7.9 yards per rush, yet lost.
For all the offense that was displayed, there were also plenty of big hits on Friday night.
Photo by Robbie Rakestraw
For all the offense that was displayed, there were also plenty of big hits on Friday night.
Remarkably, there was just one turnover the entire game, a Manvel fumble. Highland Park finished with 35 first downs to 17 for Manvel. Some were calling it the most thrilling championship game in Texas history. Now that's a mouthful.

Highland Park, the same school that produced Hall of Famers Doak Williams and Bobby Layne, and current Lions' quarterback Matthew Stafford, finished the year with 15 straight wins. Ironically, it lost its season opener by the exact score it won on Friday, 53-49 to Rockwall.

Manvel (14-1) took a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter on a 1-yard TD run by Garrison Johnson. A 55-yard run by Scott set up the score.

Highland Park responded immediately on a 73-yard touchdown pass from Jones to Saustad, to tie the game at 7-7. Manvel had a touchdown bomb of its own on its next possession as Martin connected on a 69-yard scoring pass to Preston.

Martin went long distance again, this one with a 78-yard touchdown completion to Terence Norman, making it 21-7 with 6:28 left in the second quarter.

Just before halftime, Matteo Cordray closed the gap with a 32-yard field goal, making it 21-10 at the half.
Highland Park's Paxton Alexander (35) collides with Manvel's Trent Gordon.
Photo by Robbie Rakestraw
Highland Park's Paxton Alexander (35) collides with Manvel's Trent Gordon.
Highland Park closed to 21-16 on a 10-yard touchdown run by Paxton Alexander. A long pass from Jones to Saustad set up the score. A two-point conversion run by Jones made it 21-18 with 10:30 left in the third. Alexander had a monster game with 16 carries for 119 yards and a TD, and eight catches for 128 more yards.

Martin and Preston connected again, this time on a 7-yard touchdown pass with 6:47 left in the third, making it 28-18.

Once again, Highland Park responded, this time Jones found Jay Smith with a 3-yard pass, cutting the lead to 28-25 with 4:26 left in the third.

But what Jones and Highland Park could do, Martin could do one better. This time he hooked up with Colbey Washington for a 62-yard touchdown, making it 35-25 with 1:04 left in the third.

A long pass from Jones to Alexander set up a 6-yard TD run by Benner Page, once again cutting the lead to a field goal, 35-32, with 11:16 left in the game.
Jalen Preston with one of his three touchdown catches. He finished with 5 catches for 220 yards.
Photo by Robbie Rakestraw
Jalen Preston with one of his three touchdown catches. He finished with 5 catches for 220 yards.
It took all of one play, to increase the lead back to 10 as Marin and Preston hooked up again, this time for 95 yards — a Texas 5A state championship record — to make it 42-32.

Highland Park actually took some time off the clock before its next score, a 9-yard pass from Jones to Saustad, making it 42-39 with 6:42 left.

But that's when Scott provided a backbreaker on the ensuing kickoff with a 97-yard kickoff return for touchdown, extending Manvel's lead to 49-39. Jones came back with a 1-yard rushing touchdown, making it 49-46 with 2:06 left.

When Highland Ranch recovered the ensuing onside kick, it seven plays to score the game-winner, setting off a wild celebration for the Scots.
Manvel quarterback Kason Martin threw for 483 yards and five touchdowns.
Photo by Robbie Rakestraw
Manvel quarterback Kason Martin threw for 483 yards and five touchdowns.
 
John Stephen Jones is embraced after the game by his dad and Executive Vice President, CEO, and Director of Player Personnel for the Dallas Cowboys, Stephen Jones.
Photo by Robbie Rakestraw
John Stephen Jones is embraced after the game by his dad and Executive Vice President, CEO, and Director of Player Personnel for the Dallas Cowboys, Stephen Jones.