No haven for ‘Cats

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Even though the final score showed a 48-6 blowout of Haven, you can’t say Hillsboro didn’t give the overmatched Wildcats more than a fair share of chances to stay in contention Friday night at Reimer Field.

On four occasions, the Trojans nullified an apparent big-play touchdown because of a penalty.

Each time, though, Haven was unable to take advantage of the break. Instead, Hillsboro regrouped and eventually scored again on each of those four possessions.

It was that kind of night for a Hillsboro team that finds itself at 2-0 for the first time since 2001.

“We were running the ball so well tonight,” said coach Len Coryea.

Indeed. The Trojans rolled up 340 rushing yards on only 34 carries-a whopping 10-yard average per attempt. Six of the Trojans’ seven touchdowns came on the ground, and the seventh on a fumble recovery at the end of a running play.

Hillsboro set the tone by scoring on its first possession-a 70-yard drive capped by a 21-yard run by halfback Michael Suderman. Tyler Kaufman’s kick made it 7-0 with 9:21 left in the opening quarter.

After the defense stopped Haven on three plays, Jacob Yoder returned the Wildcat punt all the way…for the first call-back touchdown.

A clipping penalty brought the ball back to the Hillsboro 48-yard line. But seven plays later-including a 28-yard pass from Spencer Brown to Lucas Hamm-Suderman was in the end zone again, this time from 12 yards out.

Kaufman missed the extra point, but Hillsboro led 13-0 with 3:36 left in the quarter.

After another three-and-out by Haven, Hillsboro took possession on the Wildcat 27 after a short punt. Four plays later, Hamm appeared to score on a 22-yard burst. But a block-in-the-back penalty brought the ball back to the Haven 15-yard line.

Hamm carried the ball back toward the goal line on the very next play, but coughed it up at the 2-yard line. Kaufman lived every lineman’s dream, falling on the loose pigskin for a touchdown.

A 2-point pass attempt fell incomplete, but Hillsboro led 19-0 with 11:42 left in the half.

After a seven-play Haven possession died at the Trojan 37-yard line, Hillsboro did another double take.

Troy Frick grabbed a pass from Brown and appeared to score from 43 yards out-but the senior receiver was called for offensive pass interference.

No matter. On the very next play, Brown broke lose from a clump of Wildcats and scampered 57 yards for the score. His 2-point pass to Hamm made the score 27-0 with 7:10 left in the half.

Hillsboro bumped the margin to 33-0 when Suderman scored his third touchdown of the night, this time on a 10-yard run with 2:01 left. Kaufman’s kick gave Hillsboro an overwhelming 34-0 lead at intermission.

By the break, Hillsboro had out-rushed the Wildcats 281 yards to 36, and had 39 passing yards to Haven’s minus-1.

The Trojans didn’t lose a step in the third quarter. After a three-an-out by Haven, Brown scored on Hillsboro’s third play from scrimmage, dashing 16 yards to paydirt. Kaufman’s kick made it 41-0 and triggered the league’s continuous-clock rule for the second week in a row.

Two plays after Hillsboro’s kickoff, Haven fumbled and Hamm recovered the ball. Two plays after that, Suderman appeared to score his fourth touchdown of the evening, this one on a 25-yard run. But a holding call brought the ball back to the Trojan 9-yard line.

Adam Dirks covered that real estate in two carries, giving Hillsboro a 48-0 margin after Kaufman’s kick bounced off the crossbar and through the uprights with 3:09 left in quarter.

With the Trojans subbing heavily, Haven ended Hillsboro’s bid for a second consecutive shutout when quarterback Byron Nienstadt found Travis Petersheim for a six-yard scoring pass with 2:15 left in the game.

Coryea said he was “really worried” going into the game because the Labor Day holiday had disrupted his team’s preparation schedule, particularly for blocking assignments.

“But I thought we did better this week blocking,” he said. “On film, I thought these guys were faster than Nickerson was-and I thought we responded pretty well to it.”

Coryea singled out John Hein for special praise for the way the sophomore relieved Alex Nuss at center after the senior was injured.

“John Hein did a marvelous job coming in,” he said. “His first snap was a little low…but the sophomore came in and we didn’t miss a lick.

“I love that.”

He also was pleased with the play of his defense, which held Wildcat standout Isiah Barfield to 39 yards on nine carries.

“You have to watch him-he’s such a great runner,” Coryea said of the NCAA Division I prospect. “But we over-keyed. You’d see our kids all running for him, and then we’d let their quarterback go.”

But not for much yardage. Hillsboro finished with an edge in total offense of 413 yards to 58.

Suderman, with 11 carries, broke the 100-yard barrier by seven yards to lead the Trojan ground attack. Hamm added 76 yards on five carries, Brown 67 yards on three carries and Yoder 59 yards on eight carries.

Coming-Hillsboro’s schedule will get decidedly tougher this Friday when the Trojans travel to Wichita to play highly regarded Collegiate (1-1). The Trojans have not won on the Spartans’ home field since 1998.

“I wanted to be 2-0 going down to Collegiate,” Coryea said. “That’s our big game right now.

“We’ve just got to keep getting better,” he added. “We’re in such a basic set yet-we still haven’t tried some things.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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