Halstead Dragons scorch Hillsboro Trojans, 56-17

Finding themselves in an early deficit for the third straight week, the Hillsboro Trojans struggled to defend against a Halstead offensive scheme that seemed at times to score at will on the way to a 56-17 outcome at Joel Wiens Stadium.

Add to the scoring mismatch a handful of injured Trojans hobbling off the field, plus a flurry of penalty flags prompted by both teams, and not even a running clock in the final quarter could bring an end to this game quickly enough.

Halstead didn’t mess around. Three plays following the opening kickoff, Dragon running back Aric Propst dashed off right tackle for a 58-yard touchdown just 1:03 into the contest. Scott Grider ran untouched for the 2-point conversation for an 8-0 lead.

After the Trojans turned the ball over on downs after nine plays, it took Halstead five plays to spring Dalton Kraus for a 39-yard score with 5:10 left in the quarter. Bryant Odendahl caught the 2-point conversion pass for a 16-0 Dragon lead.

To their credit, the Trojans put together a 68-yard, 13-play drive capped by a one-yard touchdown run by lineman Wes Shaw with 52 second left in the quarter. Shaw kicked the extra point to narrow the lead to 16-7.

Unfortunately, Propst returned the Trojan kickoff 95 yards for a Dragon touchdown with 36 seconds remaining. The 2-point conversion run made the score 24-7 as the first quarter ended.

But the Trojans regrouped again, and drove from their 20-yard line to the Halstead 2, where Brooks Gardner penetrated the end zone with 7:56 left in the half. Shaw’s kick made it 24-14.

The Trojans caught a rare break when Halstead fumbled the football on the first play of its next possession. Gardner recovered the ball at the Trojan 16-yard line. When a 6-yard loss put Hillsboro on the 20-yard line on fourth down, Shaw nailed a 36-yard field goal to pull the Trojans to within a touchdown at 24-17.

The game turned when Halstead added two more touchdowns in the final 6:43 of the first half. The first one came on a 2-yard run by Grider, and the second on a 26-yard pass to a wide-open Grider in the end zone with 17 seconds left for a 40-17 lead at intermission.

When Kleiner went down with an injury on the first play of the third quarter, the game’s outcome was all but sealed. Gardner stepped in at quarterback to finish the possession, then Darian Ratzlaff took the controls the rest of the way.

Halstead rounded out the scoring with a 16-yard run by Grider with 6:29 to play for a 48-7 lead followed by a yet another Grider score at the 11:56 mark of the fourth quarter, giving the Dragons a 56-17 lead and a running-clock finish.

The loss dropped Hills­boro to 1-4 in the league and for the season. The Dragons improved to 3-2 and 3-2.

Next week, Hillsboro travels to Haven to take on the Wildcats.

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