Hillsboro came out against Southeast of Saline looking like a team that was ready for a disappointing season to be over. The purple-clad Trojans from SES were more than happy to oblige, scoring at will in a 52-0 domination of their maroon-clad namesakes on a cold and windy Thursday night.
Southeast cashed in each of its first three possessions in the opening quarter for an 18-0 lead. Hillsboro’s only merit was that it prevented the home team from adding 2-point conversions after each score.
The sluggish play continued into the second quarter when quarterback Kaden Kleiner’s pass was intercepted by Southeast’s Tyler Breeding at the Hillsboro 15-yard line. Four plays later, SES quarterback Hunter White was in the end zone for his second rushing touchdown of the game. This time the 2-point pass was good, giving Southeast a 26-0 lead with 10:08 left in the half.
But Southeast wasn’t finished. After Hillsboro lost a fumble on its next possession, the purple Trojans rolled down the field and scored in seven plays with Kyler Berry running in from two yards out for a 32-0 score.
Still not finished. To add salt to the wound, Southeast recovered its squib kickoff at the Hillsboro 40.
Darian Ratzlaff picked off a White pass on the first play of the possession, but four plays later Hillsboro fumbled away another possession. Southeast recovered the football and scored in two plays — with White adding a 13-yard touchdown run to his resume. He also ran in the 2-point conversion to inflate the lead to 40-0.
But Southeast still wasn’t through. Grant Tillberg intercepted another Kleiner pass, giving the home team another opportunity from the Hillsboro 15-yard line. Three plays later, White scored from six yards out. The 2-point pass failed, but Southeast led 46-0.
Hillsboro looked like it might punch in a touchdown before halftime. Starting at its own 47, Hillsboro drove to the Southeast 20 in 11 plays before turning the ball over on downs with 11.8 seconds left in the half.
As the third quarter began, the running clock eased the misery of Hillsboro fans, but it didn’t keep Southeast from scoring one more time when Seth Ecklund capped a 58-yard, four-play drive with a 20-yard touchdown run at the end of the third quarter for the final 52-0 margin.
Hillsboro came close to scoring when Kleiner connected with Jacob Funk for what appeared to be a 22-yard scoring pass in the final seconds — but it was waved off by the officials, who said Funk was out of bounds when he gained possession of the football.
The loss finished Hillsboro’s season — which was plagued by injuries on a relatively small roster to begin with — with a 1-8 record. Southeast’s season also was completed, but with a 4-5 mark.