ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
In the end, depth made the difference.
For two quarters, Hillsboro stayed stride for stride with a quality Wichita Collegiate squad. But with so many Trojans having to play both sides of the ball-and having to play a regulation-length second half for the first time this season-the Spartans simply wore them out for a 24-7 win on their home field Friday night.
“I could see halfway through the third quarter we were tired,” coach Len Coryea said. “We haven’t had to go like this (for a full game)-but it was good that we had to.”
Collegiate appeared to take control of the game at the start when it engineered a 76-yard, 13-play drive to open the game.
Spartan runners pounded the middle eight straight plays before quarterback Joseph Houlik threw the ball deep to Clint Cornejo along the Spartan sideline for a 43-yard gain to the Trojan 11-yard line.
Four running plays later, Mitch Gentry scored on a fourth-and-one from two yards out for the score. A successful kick by Conner Anderson made it 7-0 with half of the first-quarter gone.
But Hillsboro came right back, driving from its own 30-yard line before losing the ball on downs at the Spartan 16.
Helped by back-to-back motion penalties by Collegiate to start the possession, the Trojan defense forced the Spartans to punt into a strong south wind from the 6-yard line, giving Hillsboro the ball at the Collegiate 24.
Five plays later, quarterback Spencer Brown connected with wide receiver Brett McIntosh for a touchdown about a minute into the second quarter. Tyler Kaufman’s extra point tied the game at 7-7.
But Collegiate pieced together another relentless drive, this time covering 72 yards in 11 plays. Houlik, throwing across the field, connected with a wide-open Cornejo for a 30-yard score.
“You saw a very good quarterback out there,” Coryea said of Houlik, who finished with 116 yards through the air and 75 on the ground. “I think you saw a kid last week (Isiah Barfield of Haven) that everybody talked about being (NCAA) D-1. But we had a kid out here tonight who played like he wants to be D-1.
“The kid is strong-a 6-foot, 190-pound quarterback. People don’t realize how strong he is.”
Collegiate’s 14-7 lead held up until intermission, and it appeared the game was headed toward a defensive standoff as both teams went three-and-out to start the third quarter.
But on its second possession of the half, Collegiate took advantage of a wind-impeded punt to put three critical points on the board.
Taking possession at their own 47, the Spartans managed 30 yards in six plays before Anderson lined up for a 43-yard field goal attempt.
It appeared the Trojans had a chance to dodge the bullet when the successful kick was nullified by a penalty. But Anderson simply stepped back five yards, drilled the ball into the jet stream for a 48-yard field goal with distance to spare.
Even so, the lead was only 17-7 with just under 2:00 left in the third quarter. But with Hillsboro increasingly struggling to move the ball against a comparatively fresh Spartan squad, the margin loomed much bigger.
The Trojans didn’t mount a serious threat the rest of the way, while the Spartans added insurance by scoring a grudgingly conceded final touchdown with 7:04 left in the game on a 39-yard drive that took Collegiate nine plays to execute.
The Trojans’ lack of depth only heightened last week when it was discovered that Michael Scheele, a starting guard on offense and a backup lineman on defense, broke his arm during the Haven game. He is out indefinitely.
“We didn’t have a good week at practice-it was terribly flat,” Coryea said. “I think some of the linemen were still bouncing around from losing Scheele.
“You lose that element (from the offensive line), plus we lose that substitution on the defensive line,” he added. “We just didn’t have what I thought was a good practice week.”
Coming-The Trojans will take a 2-1 league and season record to Ellinwood (0-3) on Friday in a game that does not count toward the league standings. Ellinwood has lost its three games by a combined score of 129-19.
Kickoff will be 7 p.m.