Hesston rolls past Hillsboro in district opener

Hesston didn’t have the superior record it has enjoyed in recent years, but the Swathers proved they are the team to beat in Class 3A District 12 with a 49-20 win over Hillsboro Friday on the Swathers’ home field.

Few Trojans fans expected their team to prevail, but given Hesston’s 3-3 record coming into the first round of district play, a competitive game was at least a possibility.

But the Swathers chewed through the Trojan defense on each of their first six possessions to take a 40-7 lead into halftime. Hesston took the opening kickoff and scored six plays later on a 8-yard run by quarterback Zach Esau less then 2 minutes into the contest.

The Trojans’ finest hour — actually their finest 3:11 — occurred during their first possession, when they marched 75 yards in seven plays, climaxing with a 14-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kaden Kleiner to wide receiver Carson Herbel at the 6:55 mark. Jeffrey Jorgenson’s kick tied the game at 7-7.

While Hesston continued to score on consecutive possessions, the Trojans simply could not. By the end of the opening quarter, Hesston was in control with a 27-7 lead. Two more scores in the second quarter bumped the lead to 40-7 by intermission.

After a three-and-out by Hillsboro to start the third quarter, Hesston kicked the game into continuous-clock territory when Tanner Blachman scored on a 41-yard pass from Esau when Hillsboro’s defender lost his footing.

Having exceeded the mandatory 35-point spread with a 46-7 score, the third quarter slipped passed quickly. Hillsboro went three-and-out once more, then Hesston countered with a 10-play, 52-yard drive that ended with Alex Hostetter scampering into the end zone from six yards out as time ran out. The PAT kick made it 49-7 with one quarter to play.

Hillsboro made the final margin more respectable with two late scores. The first one came on a 55-yard pass from Kleiner to Jacob Funk at about the 4:32 mark.

Hillsboro regained possession when a bad snap by Hesston resulted in a fumble recovery by the Trojans at the Swather 8-yard line with about 2:48 to play. Three plays later, Kleiner swept the right side for a 4-yard score with 1:06 remaining.

Hillsboro, now 2-5 for the season, will travel to Marion next Friday for Round 2. The previously undefeated Warriors lost to still undefeated Southeast of Saline on Friday night by a score of 48-6. Hesston will face the South­east Trojans in a game that likely will determine the district championship.

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