TROY, Ill. — Logan Chandler smiled as he took the handoff.
The Highland High junior running back knew it was a simple dive play designed to get maybe two or three yards.
But his offensive line gave him more — much more.
"Those are some big boys I love standing behind," Chandler said. "When I get those blocks, I just follow them."
Chandler exploded on a fourth-and-1 play for a 64-yard touchdown run that capped a three-touchdown performance as Highland knocked off Triad 21-7 in a Mississippi Valley Conference game Friday at Triad.
Highland (4-3, 3-1 MVC) pushed its winning streak over its conference rival to four consecutive games.
"It feels good, but the best feeling is we've got a shot next week to be conference champs," Highland coach Jim Warnecke said. "This was a goal that we set for ourselves a couple of months ago. It looked bleak there losing three of our first four games. But here we are — in the driver's seat with a home game next week against a tough Jerseyville team."
Chandler's three-touchdown performance and 214-yard day were highlighted by two touchdown runs on fourth-down plays. He pounded his way into the end zone midway through the first quarter before a 34-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-1 gave the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead just before the break.
But the back-breaking run was the 64-yard sprint midway through the third quarter on fourth down to give Highland a commanding 21-0 lead.
"I've seen that before," Warnecke said. "They're bringing everyone to stop it and that leaves you vulnerable. I wasn't expecting it, but I was happy to see it."
Highland stayed with rushing plays — amassing all 246 yards of its offense on the ground.
While some running backs may take the ball, cut once and go, Chandler never cut. He put his head down and plowed forward.
"On a sloppy field like this, there's not a whole lot to do than run forward," Warnecke said. "We're fortunate to have the big boys upfront and a physical back in Chandler to take care of business."
Triad (6-1, 3-1 MVC) had its chances to stay with Highland, but penalties and stalled drives kept the Knights off the scoreboard until late in the game.
The Knights outgained Highland 264-246, but they had several drives stall in the red zone.
"We made more mistakes and we were undisciplined," Triad coach Paul Bassler said. "Those are things we talked about and not let our emotions get involved, but they're kids and that stuff happens. We took one on the chin. They took it at us and they beat us upfront on offense and defense. We couldn't cash in on our opportunities."
Triad senior quarterback Logan Wongler found junior Devin Wilkins for a 21-yard touchdown pass late in the game to break up the shutout, but the offense turned the ball over three times and went 0-for-3 on fourth down attempts.