ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Tim Funk’s 42-yard touchdown scamper ended three quarters of offensive frustration and sparked the Hillsboro Trojans to a 27-2 win over Lyons in Friday’s season opener at Reimer Field.
Protecting a precarious 7-2 lead in the early moments of the fourth quarter, the Trojan line opened a hole off left tackle that enabled the senior running back to dash up the field for the pivotal score.
Even though the extra-point attempt imploded, a rejuvenated Trojan squad scored two more touchdowns before the game was over for the 25-point win.
The first score came on a 1-yard sneak by quarterback Josh Boese, capping a four-play, 58-yard drive that was set up by a pass interception by Lucas Hamm and a 32-yard pass from Boese to Troy Frick two plays later.
The Trojans’ final score of the night came on a 16-yard pass from Boese to Scheele with 3:01 to play. Scheele set up the 11-play, 48-yard drive when he grabbed a tipped pass thrown by Lion quarterback Brett Higgens.
Prior to that fourth-quarter explosion, though, the revamped Trojan offense alternately fired and misfired for three quarters, mixing impressive gains with a potpourri of bad snaps, fumbles and penalties.
The Trojans did get off to an impressive, if imperfect, start.
After the defense stuffed the Lions’ opening possession in four plays, the offense launched a shotgun, no-huddle blitzkrieg that moved the ball from its own 36-yard line to the Lyons 1-yard line in nine plays-three of which drew penalty flags.
Facing fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, the Trojans sent Tim Funk off left tackle-but the Lions stopped him dead in his tracks.
“We should have called a timeout and just run a sneak there,” Hillsboro coach Len Coryea said later. “That was my mistake. I should be smarter than that. We ran the power (formation), but we should have gone straight at them.”
Once stopped, the offense struggled to put together a successful drive because of mistakes. On their next four possessions, the Trojans suffered two lost fumbles, an interception and an errant pitchout that Lyons recovered.
What kept the Trojans in the game was consistency on defense. Lyons didn’t pick up a first down until the final play of the first half. HHS lineman Kurtis Shaw killed one drive with an interception and Scheele pounced on an errant lateral pass to end another drive.
Hillsboro finally broke the 0-0 stalemate late in the first half. Starting at their own 30-yard line, the Trojans drove to the Lyons 7-yard line in 10 plays-key among them was a 15-yard face-mask penalty, a 20-yard pass to Frick and a 16-yard run by Michael Suderman.
Facing third-and-goal, Boese fired a pass toward the right front corner of the end zone. Frick grabbed the ball, had it knocked out of his arms a split-second later by a defender, then fell on the loose ball just over the goal line for the score.
David Funk’s kick gave Hillsboro a 7-0 lead with 1:55 left in the half.
Lyons’ only points came on a safety toward the end of the third period, when a long-snap sailed over the head of punter David Funk and into the Lyons end zone. Funk recovered the ball and wisely took a knee as defenders closed in.
For the game, the Trojans rolled up 344 yards total offense-205 on the ground and 139 through the air.
At the same time, the Trojans lost three of five fumbles, suffered on interception and were penalized nine times for 106 yards.
Leading the charge was Suderman, who showed no lingering effects from a serious leg break early last season. The junior rolled up 156 yards on 22 carries. Tim Funk chipped in 81 yards on 11 carries.
Boese, meanwhile, completed eight of 16 passes-six of them to Frick for 177 yards.
The Trojan defense, meanwhile, limited the Lions to 113 yards-64 by land on 29 carries and 49 through the air on 9-for-28 passing by Higgens.
Four Hillsboro defenders snagged interceptions and the Trojans recovered one fumble.
“I thought, defensively, the guys really hit,” said Coryea, who had limited full-speed contact during the preseason. “It’s like I told them, we don’t have to beat each other in practice to learn how to hit.”
Coryea said he felt some of the mistakes his team made may be a mental carry-over from the previous season.
“I think our kids still panic a little bit when something goes wrong,” he said.
“But what I liked about this (game) is that we dominated this year at the end,” he said, referring to last season’s 33-7 win at Lyons. “Last year we threw up those passes (for long scores). This year, we set up and just went after them.”
Coryea said he liked a lot of things he saw from the offense amid the mistakes.
“We shot ourselves in the tail a few times with a bad snap or a bad move somewhere, but we’ll work on it,” he added.
Coming-Hillsboro will take its 1-0 record to Chapman on Friday. The Irish were scheduled to open their season on Monday night.
Kickoff on Friday is set for 7 p.m.