Hillsboro advances to post-season with 22-21 OT win over Marion

The showdown at Reimer Field between closely matched rivals couldn?t have been much more dramatic. When the dust cleared, it was Hillsboro who escaped with a 22-21 overtime victory over Marion Thursday night on the strength of a 2-point conversion pass from quarterback Ben Gottsch to sophomore receiver Ben Bebermeyer.

Marion had taken a 21-14 lead on the first possession of overtime when Sheldon Boone scampered all 10 yards around his right end on Marion?s first play from scrimmage. Brian Fruechting kicked the extra point to give the Warriors a seven-point margin.

On the first play of Hills?boro?s possession, the Warriors were flagged for encroachment, giving HHS a first down at the 5-yard line. Running back Ishmael Morris darted through the middle of the line on the next play to find paydirt for Hillsboro.

Following a Marion timeout, Gottsch took the snap from center and looked for his two primary receivers, Daniel Jost and Andy Klassen. Finding them covered, he opted in the last moment for Bebermeyer in the front corner of the end zone along the Trojan sideline and the sophomore pulled in the ball to ignite the celebration of the home town players and and fans.

The game seemed headed for an offensive shootout in the early going. Hillsboro took the opening kickoff and scored in three plays, including a pass of 28 yards to Jost, a seven-yard run by Morris and then a 45-yard pass to Jost again for the touchdown. Jacob Wiebe?s kick made it 7-0 less than 1 minute into the contest.

Unfazed, the Warriors came right back with a nine-play, 58-yard drive with Drew Maddox dashing the final nine yards for the score. Fruechting's kick made it 7-7 at the 6:46 mark.

After the Trojans stalled out on their next possession, Marion took the lead with a 53-yard drive in eight plays. Marc Washington swept the left end for a 16-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter. Fruechting?s kick was on the money for a 14-7 advantage.

After the teams traded possession, Hillsboro pieced together its longest sustained drive of the night, starting at its own 21-yard line and marching the length of the field in 18 plays. Gottsch connected with Jost on a slant pass from eight yards out and only 14 seconds left in the half. Wiebe?s kick tied the game for intermission.

The game turned into a defensive standoff in the second half. Hillsboro threatened toward the end of the third quarter, but lost the football at the Marion 20 on a fumble by Morris.

In the fourth quarter, Hills?boro stopped an MHS drive at the Trojan 23 on fourth-and-two. Hillsboro then rode the arm of Gottsch all the way to the Warrior 16-yard line in seven plays (five of them passes) before Boone intercepted a Gottsch floater in the end zone with 16 seconds left in the contest.

Marion quarterback Matt Sprowls, subbing for injured starter Mitchell Leppke, took a knee to run out the clock and send the game into OT.

With Hillsboro?s win, both teams finished their nine-game regular-season schedule with 6-3 records. Hillsboro, as district runner-up, will advance to bi-district play on Tuesday night against Hutchinson Trinity.

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