CEDAR PARK — Untimely turnovers and even less timely penalties marked the day for Harker Heights, with 4A-No. 6 Cedar Park capitalizing on four interceptions to seal the game against the Knights 41-20.
The Knights started slowly, not picking up a first down until the second quarter, finally managing to get on the board with 5:52 remaining in the second quarter on a fourth down conversion to trail the Timberwolves 14-6.
The reprieve was short-lived as Cedar Park marched down field and scored twice before the half to go ahead 27-6, with the last score happening on a 73-yard catch and run from Cedar Park quarterback Nate Grimm to receiver David Moritz with less than two minutes remaining in the half.
An interception by Cedar Park’s Ryan Lemmons with 1:13 remaining in the quarter set up the touchdown.
“The turnovers really hurt us this game,” Harker Heights coach Jerry Edwards said. “Cedar Park was able to capitalize on them, and when you play a team like them, you can’t do that.”
The Knights (0-3) were a completely different team to start the second half. They scored quickly out of the gate, with Darius Mitchell running the kickoff back 94 yards to close the gap 27-13.
Less than five minutes later, Marcus Anderson III rumbled 98 yards from the 1-yard line to the 1-yard line to set up a Troy Smith diving touchdown to put the Knights within a score.
Then the Knights faltered.
With costly turnovers and brilliant defensive play from Cedar Park’s Thomas Hutchings, Heights was unable to establish any real offensive rhythm.
“Fatigue hit us in the fourth quarter,” Edwards said. “In our first two games it happened, and it happened again here. We’re getting better every week, and these kids are coming together as a team. We can’t look at the record moving forward. We’ve played three tough playoff teams, and we’ve played hard in all three.
It doesn’t matter if you’re 3-0 or 0-3, once (district) play starts, you’re 0-0. These kids are mentally tough and resilient. They show it every day. We’re ready (for district play).”