Hillsboro responded to a sluggish first half Thursday night with an all-out 21-point blitz in the first 8:30 of the third quarter to claim a 35-8 win Thursday at Halstead in the final regular-season game of the season.
The victory gives the undefeated Trojans (9-0), the District 12 championship (3-0), the Central Kansas League North Division championship (4-0) and a seventh straight berth in bi-district play next Tuesday.
Hobbled by penalties and miscues, the Trojans seemed less than focused in the opening half. Even so, Hillsboro got on the board midway through the first quarter when Tyrell Thiessen grabbed a swing pass from quarterback Tyler Proffitt and ran 64 yards for a touchdown. Jesse Brown kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead with 5:26 on the clock.
After the defense forced a three-and-out, a punt return by Brown gave the Trojans the ball at their own 49-yard line. Overcoming three Trojan illegal-procedure penalties during the drive, Thiessen scored on the 16th play with a nine-yard screen pass from Proffitt. Brown’s kick made it 14-0 with 9:27 left in the half.
Halstead scored right before halftime on an 82-yard drive that was aided by a Trojan personal-foul penalty at the end of a run , giving the Dragons the ball at the Trojan 45. Seven plays later Alex Thibault ran in from 15 yards away, then added a 2-point conversion run to cut the margin to 14-8 with 1:29 to play.
After intermission, Hillsboro recovered Halstead’s onside kick at its 49-yard line. Opting for a hurry-up offense, the Trojans scored in five plays with Thiessen rumbling in from six yards out for his third score of the night. Brown was good as gold on the kick, and Trojans appeared to be in command at 21-8 with 10:51 left in the third quarter.
Another three-and-out capped by a short Halstead punt gave Hillsboro a short field at the Dragon 33-yard line. Still in the hurry-up mode, Hillsboro was in the end zone five plays later, this time on a 16-yard pass from Proffitt to Shaq Thiessen along the Halstead sideline. Brown’s kick made it 28-8 with 7:15 left in the quarter.
On the ensuing possession, Halstead picked up one first down, but then ran out of downs when the Dragons opted to run on a fourth-and-five from their own 35-yard line. Hillsboro pounced on the opportunity and scored in five plays when Proffitt crossed the goal line from a yard out with 3:33 left in the third period. Another kick by Brown put the score at the final 35-8 margin.
Hillsboro seemed to take its foot off the gas at that point, and Halstead began to move the ball. But twice, when the Dragons threatened to add points, the Trojans intercepted passes in the end zone to kill the threat. Lucas Sinclair grabbed one pick and Brown the other. Throw in a fumble recovery and in interception by Shaq Thiessen in the fourth quarter and Hillsboro managed to maintain its 27-point lead to the final gun.
Tyrell Thiessen finished with 121 rushing yards on 14 carries to account for well over half of Hillsboro’s 229 yards on the ground. Proffitt added 196 yards through the air on 18-for-25 passing to give the Trojans 455-265 advantage in total offense.
By virtue of being the district champion, Hillsboro will host the bi-district championship game Tuesday night at Joel H. Wiens Stadium. The Trojans will play the runner-up of District 11. With Haven’s win over Hutch Trinity on Thursday, the identity of that opponent is yet to be confirmed.