ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DR
A gallant fourth-quarter comeback fell one miracle short as Hillsboro’s dream of a state football championship ended Friday night in a 31-26 loss to Garden Plain at Reimer Field in Hillsboro.
The Owls seemed to have the game well in hand when their standout running back, Logan Dold, scored from 29 yards out to give Garden Plain a 31-14 lead with 2:16 left in the third quarter.
Hillsboro got its first break when an apparent 11-yard touchdown run by Dold was called back on an illegal-block penalty in the final seconds of the same quarter.
The Trojans managed to stop the Owls on downs to avoid a crushing touchdown.
Then with 6:39 left in the game, quarterback Spencer Brown finally connected on a long throw to wide receiver Troy Frick for a 61-yard score to cut the margin to 31-20 after the 2-point conversion failed.
The Trojan defense then forced the Owls to punt after a three-and-out, and Hillsboro got the ball back at its 24-yard line with 4:22 left. On the second play from scrimmage, Brown threw to Frick, who then tipped the ball to a nearby Lucas Hamm. Hamm raced down the home sideline for a 76-yard score. The 2-point conversion failed again, but Hillsboro was within a touchdown with 4:01 to go.
But the Owls used their superior line strength to grind out two first downs, run out the clock and move on to the state finals.
Hillsboro got on the scoreboard first when Jacob Yoder raced 32 yards on a counter play on the third play of the game. Tyler Kaufman’s kick made it 7-0.
Garden Plain came back to tie the score midway through the period on a 17-yd run by Dold and an extra point kick. The Owls added a 3-yard run by Dold with 7:12 left in the second quarter and a 5-yard run by Dold with 1:10 left in the half to go up 19-7.
The Trojans stung the Owls on a fake punt play that turned into a 27-yard touchdown pass from Brown to Aaron Stepanek with 20 seconds left before intermission, That made the halftime scored 19-14 after Kaufman kicked the extra point.
In the third quarter, Garden Plain extended its lead to 31-14 with a four-yard run by Nathan Matzen with 8:15 left in the period, and then Dold’s 29-yard run with 2:26 left in the period.
The loss ends an outstanding Trojan season with a 9-4 record.
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DR