When a team is searching for its first win of the season, and the season is half over, sometimes it takes a special play to get it over the hump.
Highland got that special play from kicker Austin Casillas.
The left-legged senior nailed a 58-yard field goal on the final play of the first half and the Hawks rode that momentum to a 20-13 win at Skyline for its first victory of the season.
"I told him it was a huge play for us," Highland coach Pete Wahlheim said. "It finally gave us some energy."
The Hawks (1-5) scored a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns, and then benefited from some costly Skyline (2-4) penalties to secure the victory.
Sophomore quarterback Blake Young gave Highland its first lead of the game at 13-6, scoring on a 6-yard run with 10:37 left to play. It capped a 9-play, 70-yard drive where the Hawks finally found their running game, and Young found receivers Bill Johnson and Tyler Hatch for clutch third-down conversions.
"I just try and do what my coaches tell me," said Young, who completed 10 of 13 second half passes for 124 yards. "Our offensive line did great. They won the game for us."
After taking the lead, Highland forced a three-and-out on Skyline's next possession. The Hawks then went on another 9-play drive, this one covering 83 yards with Jacob Vehonsky racing the final 31 for the score and a seemingly comfortable 20-6 lead midway through the fourth.
But when a team is 0-for-the-season, nothing seemingly comes easy.
Skyline needed a little more than two minutes to drive 80 yards and score on a 12-yard run by Russel Baptiste to make it 20-13 with 2:53 left in the game.
"We never make things easy," Wahlheim said. "We loosened up a little too much."
Highland recovered the ensuing on-side kick but was forced to punt with 2:34 to play. But a running into the kicker penalty gave the Hawks the ball back and they ran out the clock, gaining a first down on an offsides penalty with :48 remaining.
"Too many mistakes," Skyline coach Peter Jonovich said. "Bad penalties and then getting field goals when we have the ball inside the 10. It's frustrating."
The Coyotes twice had the ball first-and-goal in the first half, and came away with field goals of 33- and 25-yards from Humberto Hernandez.
Casillas also converted from 21 yards in the first half, but it was his 58-yarder that tied it at 6 at the half and proved to be the catalyst for the Hawks.
"I see him make those in practice all the time," Wahlheim said. "He has the confidence in himself. Our kids really needed that field goal and this game."