Hillsboro played toe-to-toe with Hesston for one half, but the constant wearing down by a bigger football team with a deeper roster led to the undoing of the Trojans in a 41-6 loss during the first round of district play Friday at Joel Wiens Stadium.
Hillsboro as the first team to score against the 3-3 Swathers, when Darian Ratzlaff intercepted a Cameron Cox pass to give the Trojans a first down at the Hillsboro 44-yard line.
Four plays later, Ratzlaff — who stepped in as quarterback from his receiver position — connected with Jacob Funk for a 46-yard touchdown at the 7:07 mark of the quarter. Wes Shaw’s kick missed the mark, but Hillsboro led 6-0.
Not for long, though.
On the first play from scrimmage following the kickoff, Swather standout running back Parker Ross appeared to be bottled up for a short gain, but suddenly Ross escaped the scrum and raced for an 80-yard score.
Brooks Gardner blocked Jorge Morales’ extra-point kick to keep the game tied at 6-6.
Hesston didn’t score again until Ross capped a 13-play, 78-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown run on third-and-three. This time kick, Morales’ kick split the uprights for a 13-6 Swather lead.
The score remained there as the first-half ended, but the Trojans did suffer a loss when Brooks Gardner, their leading running back and co-quarterback, was shaken up and did not return the rest of the game.
Hesston received the second-half kickoff and rolled 75 yards in eight plays with Ross scoring from 2 yards out with 9:50 left in the third quarter.
The Swathers then took over on downs at the 6:46 mark of the third quarter with the football at the Hillsboro 31-yard line. Cox bedazzled the Trojan defense as he raced 69 yards for a touchdown on the very next play. Morales’ kick made it 27-6.
Hesston added two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The first one came on a 44-yard breakaway run by Ross at the 10:30 mark, and the second with 53 seconds left when Cox swept the right end for a 5-yard score to cap a 15-play, 75-yard drive that consumed 8:04 of the quarter.
The loss dropped the Trojans to 1-6 for the season while Hesston improved to 4-3. Next week, Hillsboro will host Marion, who defeated Southeast of Saline, 64-36, in the other district matchup in Class 3A District 12.