HUNTSVILLE — A key moment in Friday’s Region 2-3A showdown here came early in the second quarter. 

Scott High had spotted Austin-East a 20-0 first quarter lead. But the Highlanders had bounced back to score in the opening minute of the second quarter, when Alex Rector and Mason Owens connected for a 25-yard touchdown through the air. Then, Scott’s defense stiffened its back.

Austin-East was facing third-and-six from Scott’s 38-yard-line after a first down stop by Phoenix Norris and an incomplete pass by Roadrunner quarterback Treyveon Foster. Even after a five-yard penalty against the Highlanders for being offsides, A-E threw another incomplete pass on third down, and it was fourth-and-short from the 33-yard-line.

With a stop and another offensive score, Austin-East — which was state-ranked at one point this season — might’ve found itself very much in a tight game as homecoming festivities cranked up at the half.

But Foster found Amauri Adams for a 15-yard gain and a first down, the Roadrunners went on to punch the ball into the end zone for a 26-7 lead, and it was 33-10 by the half, as A-E eventually pulled away for a 46-10 win.

Mason Owens (center) celebrates his 25-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter with teammates Hunter Davis and River Gray during Scott High’s game against Austin-East on Friday, October 4, 2019 | LeEtta Boyatt/IH

Foster, big in both size and ability, was simply too much for an injury-riddled Scott High team to contain. By the end of Friday’s game, the Highlanders had only three of their original starters from Week 1 on the field. Foster had 383 yards of total offense and seven touchdowns.

“We’ve got a couple of guys as far as leadership on this team, they push through it and even in the fourth quarter, staring in the face of imminent defeat, they were busting through the line and getting in the face of the quarterback,” Scott High coach Josh Terry said. “There are a couple of guys who are just not going to let guys give up. They beat us pretty bad tonight, but at no point did I feel like our guys just shut it down and started taking it.”

The Highlanders ended the first half with a 38-yard field goal by Rector, cutting A-E’s lead to 33-10 lead as the teams headed into the locker room.

Scott started the game defensively by forcing a turnover on downs. But the Highlanders’ first two drives ended with fumbles, giving Austin-East the early leg up. Once Scott settled down, two of its next four drives ended in points, but the damage had been done — especially once the Highlanders’ top two playmakers on offense, Rector and Owens, were sidelined by injuries in the second half. The two are the latest in a string of injuries to impact the Highlanders this season.

The Roadrunners showed little mercy. They had two turnovers in the second half — a fumble that was forced by Brandon Carson and recovered by Caleb Jeffers, and an interception by Zack Sexton — but the turnovers were book-ended by scores by A-E, as the Roadrunners maintained pace with Gatlinburg-Pittman in the battle to lock up home field advantage in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.

In light of all the injuries, more of Scott High’s younger players got an opportunity to take snaps in the second half.

“That younger class, I’m pumped about them,” Terry said. “We made a lot about that sophomore class in the preseason but that freshman class, man, there’s a couple of good linemen in it and every one of them show a hunger for practice, and that’s special. You don’t get many groups that are devoted to showing up for five or six JV games a year, but they just love practice. I’m definitely pumped about getting them into the weight room this offseason and seeing what we can grow that group into.”

The Highlanders (3-4, 0-3) have now completed their games against the teams picked to finish one, two and three in Region 2-3A, and will travel to rival Kingston on Friday needing a win to stay in the playoff hunt.

“Our coaching staff, we’re gonna burn the midnight oil, as they say,” Terry said. “Whatever happens, it’s not going to be for lack of effort, from a player or a coach standpoint. We do everything together. As far as losing goes, it’s everybody’s fault. And as winning goes, it’s everybody’s victory. We’ll rally it up, put our best foot forward, and go to work next week as hard as we can.”