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HERMLEIGH â€” A Highland team that hasnâ€™t had much go its way this season started Fridayâ€™s final game against Hermleigh on a positive note. Thomas Stewart scored on runs of 7 and 42 yards to give the Hornets an early 14-0 lead, and Highland still led the Cardinals by seven, 20-13, after a 6-yard run by Peyton Howard in the second period.
But Hermleigh â€” despite allowing Stewart to run for 195 yards in the final game of an outstanding high school career â€” eventually went ahead by six, 26-20, at halftime, and by 13, 39-26, after three periods.
Then the Cardinals broke things open to win, 71-26, on the strength of a 32-point fourth quarter when Hermleigh (1-2, 4-6) scored four touchdowns, the last on a 47-yard fumble return with 6:25 to play that ended the game.
Highland (0-3, 2-7) got its only second-half score on Ron Covingtonâ€™s 24-yard run in the third quarter. Covington rushed for 58 yards and Howard 32. In addition, Howard caught two passes and Covington and Stewart one while in the passing department, Stewart and Ethan Wilson each completed a pair of throws for a total of 36 yards.
Stewart, the only starter back this season from Highlandâ€™s 2009 state finalist team, also kicked an extra point and was the leading tackler against Hermleigh with eight solo stops and one assist. Covington had four solo tackles and one assist while Howard finished with two solo tackles and two assists. Toby Falcon and Landon Rowlett each had one tackle and one assist while Jordan Rowan had one solo tackle and Brandt Stevens had one assisted tackle.