The Hillsboro Trojans survived a wild showdown with the Remington Broncos on Thurs?day to advance to the state playoffs with a 33-26 victory at Reimer Field.
The Trojans appeared to be on the way to an easy win when Brandon Brown intercepted the Bronco?s Cole Cherryholmes on the very first play from scrimmage. The Trojans then scored on their very first play when Jacob Yoder broke loose with a 48-yard touchdown gallop. Spencer Brown missed the point-after kick, but Hillsboro had a 6-0 lead only 24 seconds into the contest.
But that was just the start. After Remington went three-and-out, Hillsboro pieced together an 11-play, 51-yard drive, with Yoder finding the end zone again, this time from six yards out. Hills?boro?s 2-point conversion was foiled by a holding penalty, but the Trojans still led 12-0 with 6:16 left in the first quarter.
Hillsboro forced another three-and-out on the next possession and then cashed in one more time when Brown teamed up with Daniel Jost for a 56-yard scoring pass with less than five minutes left in the quarter. Brown?s kick made it 19-0.
But just when it seemed the game was in hand, Cherryholmes and his teammates stepped up.
After Brown was intercepted by Remington?s Kyle Berg, the Broncos drove 80 yards in 14 plays, culminating in a 4-yard scoring pass from the Bronco flamethrower to Jake Thiessen. The duo hooked up on a pass for the 2-point conversion that cut the deficit to 19-8 with less than 7 minutes left in the half.
This time the Trojans went three-and-out, and Cherryholmes went back to work. On this possession, he steered his team 63 yards in nine plays, connecting with Thiessen again for the score, this time from 15 yards out.
That cut the lead to 19-14 at intermission.
The Broncos kept their head of steam into the third quarter. After stopping Hillsboro in four plays to start the second half, the Broncos leaped into the lead for the first time when Cherryholmes hit Thiessen with an 86-yard bomb on the Broncos? first play from scrimmage. The defense stopped Cherryholmes? run for 2 points to keep the score at 20-19.
But now, even in the face of a loud and enthusiastic Reming?ton crowd, it was Hillsboro?s turn to pick itself off the mat. With Yoder carrying the freight seven times, Hillsboro scored in 11 plays with the senior running back taking it into the end zone from 2 yards out. Then Brown, scrambling for his life on the 2-point conversion attempt, lofted a pass cross-field that Yoder managed to haul in.
The Trojans were back in front, 27-20, with 6:50 left in the third quarter.
Then Yoder made the big play on defense, picking off Cherry?holmes to kill the Broncos? drive and give the Trojans the ball at the their own 35-yard line.
Four plays later, Brown doubled-pumped a pass deep along the Remington sideline. Jost hauled it in for a 58-yard score and a 33-20 lead. Brown?s kick was blocked by the right upright, but the Trojans led by two touchdowns with 10:32 left in the game.
As it turned out, Hillsboro needed both scores.
Cherryholmes and company pulled together a 75-yard scoring drive that took 11-plays. But it was Thiessen again on the receiving end of the touchdown toss, this one from 5 yards out and with 3:22 left in the game. Hillsboro lineman Zach Jost knocked down Cherryholmes? throw for 2 points and Hillsboro maintained a seven-point spread at 33-26.
Hillsboro then ran out the clock, running for two huge first downs to nail down the win and the playoff berth.
The victory gave the Trojans a 5-4 season record, but more important, a 2-1 record in the district — good enough for the runner-up spot. Remington?s season ended at 7-2.
Hillsboro will play its bi-district game Tuesday at Sedgwick. Game time is 7 p.m.