ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
No need for a second-half turnaround this time.
In contrast to last week’s performance against Smoky Valley, the Hillsboro Trojans looked sharp on both sides of the ball, and wrapped the Ellinwood Eagles early, 34-7, Friday in Ellinwood.
This game was all but decided by halftime, with Hillsboro leading
22-0 and looking dominant in the process.
The Trojans scored first on a five-yard touchdown run by Ross Duerksen with 4:29 left in the first quarter. The drive, which was set up Alan Yoder’s punt return to the Ellinwood 24-yard line, took only five plays.
Quarterback Dustin Jost connected with Adam Woods for the 2-point pass to give the Trojans an 8-0 lead.
Hillsboro had a chance to add another quick score when Layne Frick intercepted a David Waite pass on the Ellinwood 29.
From there, the Trojans’ Kris Jones ran the ball to the 19 on the first play from scrimmage. But four running plays netted only seven yards and the Eagles took over on downs at their own 12-yard line.
Ellinwood picked up only seven yards on three plays before punting. Hillsboro then moved from the Ellinwood 49 into the end zone in four plays, capped by a 29-yard touchdown run from Yoder, who sliced off tackle and then broke to the outside for the score.
The 2-point conversion failed, but Hillsboro led 14-0 with 9:57 left in the half.
After the Trojans forced another Eagle punt minutes later, Jost lofted a pass toward Frick on the Trojans’ first play from the 14-yard line. Eagle defender Drew Conwell stumbled as Frick went up to grab the ball. By the time the senior wide receiver was dragged down, Hillsboro was on the Ellinwood 30 for a 56-yard gain.
Ten plays later, wide receiver Steven Chisholm, covered by two defenders, grabbed a Jost pass on the goal line and fell into the end zone as he was hit for a five-yard score.
Jost and Woods hooked up again for the 2-point pass to give the Trojans their 22-0 halftime lead.
Ellinwood came out in the third quarter and controlled the ball for all but two-and-one-half minutes of the period. The Trojan defense bent but never broke to preserve the shutout.
But the game took an odd twist early in the final period when the Trojans, facing second and 10 on the Ellinwood 31, were called for a block in the back on a beautiful scramble and pass by Jost to Woods that would have given the Trojans a first down in Eagle territory.
On the next play, Jost was tackled for a 15-yard loss to the Trojan 5-yard line. He left the game because of contact-lens trouble. On third-and-36 Ronn Coates, coming in cold off the bench, connected with Frick on a sideline pass for a 31-yard gain, and it appeared the Trojans had righted themselves once again.
But on fourth-and-five from their own 36-yard line, Coates scrambled on a broken pass play and was sacked for a 16-yard loss, giving the Eagles a first down on the Trojan 20.
Andy Wesner, the Eagles’ top back, scored three plays later on a 15-yard run up the middle to give the Ellinwood homecoming crowd its first and only occasion to honk some car horns.
Hillsboro took advantage of two Eagle turnovers late in the game to score their final two touchdowns.
After Coates intercepted a Waite pass, Jost ran the ball up the middle and into the end zone four plays later. The 2-point pass failed, but Hillsboro led 28-7 with 3:41 to go.
Less than a minute later, Hillsboro’s James Bina recovered an Eagle fumble. Duerksen swept the Trojans’ left end five plays later and ran 32 yards for Hillsboro’s final touchdown with only 34 seconds left in the game. Bina missed the extra-point kick, but it hardly mattered.
Afterward, coach Dustin McEwen said he was surprised by his team’s dominance.
“Traditionally, coming to Ellinwood is a tough thing to do,” he said. “Ellinwood always plays us tough, so I didn’t think we’d see that 22-point lead.
“It wasn’t an easy game, though,” he added. “We had to play football tonight. We just played a little earlier.”
McEwen credited his club’s improved play to road-game experience.
“We got the first road game out of the way (last week at Smoky Valley),” he said. “When you’re at home, it’s a little easier. Things are normal. You come here, things are a little bit different. So we picked up the intensity (before the game) with a few more things that we’re familiar with. I think that got them a little more focused.”
The Trojan defense was focused all night and sometimes awesome, allowing only 38 rushing yards on 31 carries and only 13 yards through the air.
Hillsboro, meanwhile, picked up 189 yards on 49 carries. Duerksen led the team with 87 yards on 17 carries.
Quarterbacks Jost and Coates combined for 136 passing yards.