After early hiccup, Trojans bury Bears

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
It was the kind of start coaches have nightmares about.

Favored Hillsboro fumbled away the football on its own 10-yard line on the second play of Friday’s game, and Sterling scored four plays later.

It wasn’t the way coach Len Coryea wanted to start a showdown of 3-1 teams-especially when his team was already dealing with the many distractions that come with homecoming festivities.

But the shaky start proved to be a hiccup rather than a meltdown.

The Trojans responded to initial adversity with perhaps their best performance of the season in a 46-6 victory over the Black Bears at Reimer Field.

“We didn’t panic,” Coryea said afterward. “My stomach was panicking, though. I was afraid of coming out and doing something like that.”

Coryea’s stomach settled quickly as the Trojans scored decisively on their next two possessions.

On the heels of the Sterling score, Hillsboro drove 67 yards in nine plays with senior Michael Suderman cashing in with an eight-yard touchdown run. The Trojans took the lead for good at 7-6 when Tyler Kaufman kicked the extra point.

After the defense forced a Black Bear punt after a six-play possession, Trojan quarterback Spencer Brown started the next drive with a 33-yard pass to Troy Frick to give HHS a first down at the Sterling 18.

Four plays later, Brown cracked the end zone from two yards out and the Trojans led 14-6 with six seconds left in the period.

Hillsboro lowered the boom midway through the second period when Suderman, on the first play of the possession, burst off right tackle and raced 54 yards for another touchdown. Kaufman’s third extra point gave Hillsboro a 21-6 lead that it maintained until halftime.

But Sterling’s nightmare had just begun. On the fourth play of the third quarter, Frick caught a pass thrown by Black Bear quarterback Richard Stromberg and returned it 35 yards for a Trojan touchdown less than two minutes into the action.

Then, after a bad punt snap by Sterling gave Hillsboro the ball at midfield, the Trojans scored again, this time when Brown raced 28 yards on the fifth play of the possession. Kaufman finally missed an extra point, but Hillsboro led 34-6 with 5:53 left in the quarter.

Desperate for something good to happen on its next possession, the Black Bear faked a punt on a fourth-and-three at its own 39-yard line. But Hillsboro stuffed the trickery at the line of scrimmage to take possession with great field position.

Not that field position would have mattered much. After a Trojan penalty on the first play pushed the ball back five yards, Brown threw downfield to Lucas Hamm. The senior caught the ball in stride and rumbled into the end zone for a 44-yard score and a 40-6 Hillsboro lead with 4:01 left in the period.

The Trojans capped their scoring when Suderman culminated a nine-play, 74-yard drive with a 17-yard run for his third touchdown of the evening. The score also kicked in the continuous-clock rule for the fourth time in five games this season.

The Trojans finished with 426 yards of total offense compared to Sterling’s 82.

Suderman accumulated 121 of the team’s 280 rushing yards on 11 carries to set the pace. Brown threw for 146 yards on 6-for-12 passing and ran for 66 more on five carries.

“Suderman’s runs were phenomenal tonight,” Coryea said. “He put on a clinic out there.”

The Trojans, who have been strong up the middle, found a lot of success running to the outside against Sterling.

“They were so worried about our counters in the middle, so we just powered it to the outside,” said Coryea, who praised tackle Darren Enns’s contributions to the successful strategy.

“He’s seeing things that other people aren’t seeing on the offensive line,” Coryea said. “The rest of them are starting to listen to Darren talk and they build on that.”

Coryea also was pleased with the way his defense shut down speed and quickness of the Black Bears.

“I thought, defensively, we played a great game,” he said. “I thought we responded better tonight on (deep throws)-it’s the best we’ve been. And my linemen are starting to put their hands up on passes. We blocked at least three tonight.”

Coming-The Trojans (4-1) will face a stiff test Friday when they travel to Lindsborg to take on Smoky Valley (4-1). The Trojans, Vikings, Wichita Collegiate and Hesston of the Central Division each have only one loss in the league standings.

“It’s going to be head to toe,” Coryea said. “They’ve got (Michael) Baker, their fullback and linebacker. He’s a good football player. And their quarterback can throw a long ways.”

Game time is 7 p.m.

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