For 26-plus minutes , the junior Rebels held the lead over the junior Pirates, but at the 1:35 mark of the fourth, Highland lost the lead and one minute later lost the game, 16-8, at Gosnell on Oct. 7.
The junior Reb defense had held on three fourth down plays, forced two punts and recovered a fumble prior to Gosnell's final drive.
Junior Pirate quarterback Dewight Griffin was six-of-nine for 45 yards on the final drive, including a 19-yard pass to Colton Godsey on fourth-and-long for the tying score.
Highland had three personal fouls and a pass interference call on the drive.
"We held them out of the end zone for 3.8 quarters, but just couldn't there at the end," said Junior Rebel Head Coach Spencer Hill. "Offensively, we've got to score more than eight points to beat good teams like that."
Penalties were the story of the game. Both Highland and Gosnell had 30 yards worth in the first half, but the junior Rebs suffered seven second-half penalties for 76 yards, as compared to the junior Pirates one for five.
"Penalties killed us. We felt like we were weathering the storm and we just couldn't make a stop there on fourth down with a minute and a half to go," said Hill.
The junior Rebs lost the lead when quarterback Avery Johnson fumbled the ball and Marcus Mullins returned it 50 yards for the go-ahead score.
Highland came very close to tying the score in the closing seconds of the game.
Kamran Seat returned the short kickoff to the junior Pirate 47 and Johnson swept to the left for a quick 19 yards with 30 seconds left.
Cody Odell caught a Johnson pass for another 19 yards to the Gosnell 9-yard line.
With 15 seconds left, Johnson tried to hit Odell in the end zone on the slant, but Odell's feet got tangled with defender Alex Turner. No flag was thrown. On the final play, Johnson tried to float his pass to Odell in the end zone, but instead of landing in the back of the end zone, the ball was picked off by Turner at the goal line.
After the Reb defense stopped Gosnell's first drive on fourth-and-inches, the offense put up quick points.
Starting with a holding call that pushed them back to the Pirate 45, running back Shawn Young picked up three yards, followed by a Johnson to Odell 12-yard connection. Johnson was stopped after one yard on third down, but fullback Tyler Delargy ran around the left end for a 10-yard gain and a first down. Johnson fooled Gosnell with the bootleg and scored from 19 yards out. Young added the 2-point conversion.
Johnson led the team with 53 yards on 15 carries, and was five-of-12 for 96 yards. Young had seven carries for 33 yards. Odell caught four passes for 60 yards.
Highland (4-2, 2-1) will host Osceola on Oct. 14.