A never-quit Hillsboro football team kept coming back and kept coming back all game long. But in the end the Trojans could not overtake a talented Sedgwick squad, and ended their season with a 38-34 loss in the regional championship game at Joel H. Wiens Stadium.
The loss brought an end to Hillsboro’s best season in more than 15 years with a 10-1 record. Sedgwick (10-1) will play undefeated Beloit in the next round of the state playoffs next Friday.
Sedgwick set a tone when the Cardinals’ Nate Werner intercept Trojan quarterback Tyler Proffitt on the third play of the game. A Sedgwick penalty after the pick gave the visitors the ball at the Trojan 49-yard line. Six plays later, Cardinal quarterback Logan Thompson was in the end zone on a 16-yard run. Hillsboro stopped the two-point conversion run to trail 6-0 with 8:39 left in the quarter.
Hillsboro then tied the game on a single play when Tyrell Thiessen swept the left end and ran 67 yards for the tying touchdown. Tyler Burst’s extra-point kick was blocked, but the game was tied at 6-6.
Sedgwick went back in front on the next possession with a 62-yard, 13-play drive capped by Dalton Brandt’s 3-yard touchdown run. Thompson passed to Drake Standefer for the 2-point conversion and a 14-6 lead.
Hillsboro caught a break later in the quarter when Greer Chandler caught Thompson pass but fumbled the ball on the tackle. The Trojans recovered the ball at the Cardinal 9-yard line, then scored on the next play when Tyrell Thiessen ran in with 1.6 seconds left in the quarter. Proffitt hit Shaq Thiessen for the two-point pass to tie the game 14.
Sedgwick took the lead again midway through the second quarter. When Shaq Thiessen fumbled a fair-catch punt, the Cardinals recovered the ball at the Trojan 29. Four plays later, Thompson rolled in from three yards away and then Brandt cashed in the two-point conversion run for a 22-14 lead that Sedgwick preserved until halftime.
As the third quarter began, Hillsboro found itself teetering on the edge of serious deficit when Sedgwick marched from its 37-yard line to the Trojan 4 in nine plays. But linebacker Josh Davidson intercepted Thompson just inside the end zone and fell forward to the 1-yard line.
From there, Hillsboro pieced together an impressive 99-yard drive in 11 plays. The payoff came on a 37-yard pass from Proffitt to Evan Ollenburger, who caught the long pass around the 17-yard line broke the tackle of the Sedgwick defender and ran the final yards for the score. Tyrell Thiessen carried the ball for the two-point conversion and another tie, this time at 22 with 4:37 left in the third quarter.
Sedgwick later jumped back into the lead with a 26-yard run by Brandt up the middle of the Trojan defense with 20.8 seconds left in the quarter. This time Thompson ran in the two-point conversion for a 30-22 lead.
Undeterred, Hillsboro marched 63 yards and scored again with 8:59 left in the game when Proffitt ran in from seven yards out. The key play in the drive was a 26-yard pass from Proffitt to Shaq Thiessen on a fourth-and-9 play from the Sedgwick 44.
Needing one more two-point conversion to tie, Hillsboro fell short when Tyrell Thiessen was tackled short of the goal line.
Sedgwick than ate up 5 minutes of the clock with a 64-yard, 12-play drive that ended in the end zone when Thompson ran the ball in from five yards away. The Cardinals added the two-pointer to give them their biggest lead of the game at 38-28 with 3:47 left in the game.
Hillsboro refused to roll over, though, and covered 55 yards in six plays and used only 1:06 before Proffitt connected with Ollenburger for a 30-yard score with 2:38 left. Burst’s kick missed badly, but the Trojans still had a shot at 38-34.
Unfortunately, Sedgwick recovered the Trojans’ squib kick, and Hillsboro’s weary defense couldn’t secure a three-and-out as the Cardinals ran out the clock for the victory.