An extra point — a play that cost the Hillsboro Trojans two late-game losses earlier this season because they were unsuccessful at converting them — this time carried the Trojans to a walk-off, 20-19 overtime victory at Marion on Friday.
The win gave Hillsboro (4-3) a 1-0 record in district play while Marion (4-3) is 0-1.
Marion cashed in on two Hillsboro fumbles in the second half to battle back from a 13-0 halftime deficit and pull to within 13-12 with 1:13 left in the game on a 1-yard touchdown run by Austin Hager.
The Warriors, having clearly captured the momentum in the game, decided to go for the win with the 2-point conversion. But quarterback Mitchell Leppke was called for illegal procedure when he pulled away from center too early. The 5-yard penalty prompted an extra-point kick by Brian Freuchting that tied the game and ultimately sent it into OT.
Marion was awarded the first possession and scored in three plays, with Leppke redeeming himself with a 3-yard TD jaunt off left tackle. But this time Freuchting’s kick was low and to the right, opening the door for a Trojan opportunity.
Hillsboro responded with a three-play touchdown, with Jacob Yoder carrying the final three yards for the touchdown.
Brown, who missed an extra point kick after Hillsboro’s second touchdown of the night, lined up for the game winner. After Marion coach Grant Thierolf called a timeout to ice him, Brown remained just cool enough to drive the ball easily through the uprights for the win.
Hillsboro had taken a 7-0 lead when Brown scored from two yards out on the Trojans’ second possession of the night. He added the extra point as well with 3:56 on the clock.
Both team took nearly an hour break when officials suspended action with 51.7 second left in the opening quarter because of lightning in the area.
When action resumed, neither team scored again until the final second of the half when Brown rolled to his right, started up field and then heaved a pass toward Yoder in the end zone. The senior standout made a diving catch near the Marion sideline for the 32-yard score with no time left on the clock.
Brown shanked the kick to the right, but Hillsboro went to the locker room with a 13-0 lead.
On Hillsboro’s first possession of the second half, Yoder fumbled near midfield and Marion’s Chase Carlson recovered the ball at the Warrior 40. A halfback pass and four consecutive runs by Hager put the ball at the Trojan 1-yard line, where Leppke scored with 5:02 left in the third quarter.
Trailing 13-7, the Warriors got a second break when Brown fumbled the snap under center. The Warriors recovered the ball with 8:37 left in the game.
Fifteen plays and 7:24 later, Hager crashed in from a yard out to set up the kick by Freuchting that tied the game.