Scott High receiver Mason Owens turns the ball upfield after one of his 10 catches against Northview Academy at Highlander Stadium on Friday, October 18, 2019. Owens finished with 166 receiving yards and three touchdowns | LeEtta Boyatt/IH

HUNTSVILLE — Northview Academy returned the opening kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown to set the tone in Friday night’s Region 2-3A game, as the Cougars stunned Scott High with a 28-21 victory.

Northview Academy, which was winless entering Friday’s game against a Scott High team that is still recovering from a rash of injuries, jumped to a 21-7 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Highlanders finally caught fire and captured the momentum, roaring back to tie the game at 21 with just over five minutes remaining. But the Cougars were able to drive 80 yards in eight plays to take the lead on an 8-yard touchdown run with just 17 seconds remaining, escaping with the upset win.

Scott High (3-6, 0-5) finished with more offensive yards than Northview Academy (1-7, 1-4), 252-226. Seniors Alex Rector and Mason Owens had a big night in the passing game. Rector, back at quarterback after missing the Kingston game with an injury, completed 15 of 24 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns. Owens caught 10 of the passes for 166 yards and all three scores. It was the second time this season that the senior duo connected for three touchdowns through the air.

In the end, though, it was Northview Academy that stole the show with the game-winning drive in the waning moments.

While the Cougars started the game with the electrifying kick return for a touchdown, Scott High had an answer. The Highlanders drove 80 yards in 10 plays to tie the game, with  Rector and Owens hooking up on a 17-yard pass completion for the score.

Northview Academy’s offense was stymied by Scott High’s defense in the first half. The Cougars managed only 23 yards of total offense in the first two quarters. And their most successful drive — a 7-play, 24-yard drive late in the second quarter — ended when Owens intercepted a pass.

Scott High, though, saw Northview Academy’s defense come up with stops at the most inopportune of times, and the Highlanders were never able to take the lead despite moving the ball relatively well.

Early in the second quarter, the Highlanders turned the ball over on downs at Northview Academy’s 13-yard-line after the Cougars got a big stop on fourth-and-one. A mishap on a punt attempt nearly spelled disaster for Scott after Northview took over inside the 40-yard-line, but the Highlanders’ defense held at the 20-yard-line and forced a turnover on downs. A 39-yard completion from Rector to Owens on the next play had the Highlander offense on the move again, but the drive eventually ended on downs at Northview Academy’s 27-yard-line.

The Cougars appeared on the verge of taking over the game in the third  quarter.  After a three-and-out by Scott to start the second half, Northview Academy drove 61 yards in 10 plays to score on a 31-yard touchdown from Johnny Webster to Eric Chandler.

The Highlanders fumbled the ball away on the next play from scrimmage, but their defense forced Northview into a punt. The Cougars, however, got the ball back after another three-and-out, and put together another scoring drive to end the third quarter and start the fourth. Webster scored on a 10-yard run to give his team a 21-7 lead.

Finally, Scott High’s offense came to life. Rector and Owens connected for a quick 53-yard touchdown, cutting the Cougars’ lead to 21-13 after the extra point attempt was blocked. Then their defense forced a three-and-out,  with Zack Sexton and Caleb Jeffers coming up with a big stop behind the line of scrimmage on third-and-short.

From there, it was Rector-to-Owens again. This time, the touchdown covered nine yards after a series of passes moved the ball close. Trailing 21-19,  the Highlanders needed a 2-point conversion to tie the game. Disaster appeared to strike when a penalty backed the try up to the 8-yard-line, but Rector and Owens connected again to tie the game with 5:30 remaining.

With all the momentum on Scott High’s side, Northview Academy was able to drive the length of the field in the waning minutes. The Cougars converted a third down, then punched the ball into the end zone on an 8-yard run with 17 seconds remaining. 

The Highlanders had an answer for Northview Academy the rest of the game, but had only enough time for two more plays before the game ended.

After an off-week, Scott High will conclude the season with a visit to Pigeon Forge on November 1.