Hillsboro responded to adversity with big plays that delivered a 33-23 win over Hesston Friday night, spoiling the Swathers? homecoming and giving the Trojans a 4-0 start to the season.
Hesston came out like gangbusters, slicing through a sluggish Trojan defense for 70 yards in five plays on its first possession. When Ryan Schadler skirted through the middle from eight yards out, the Swathers led 7-0 only 1:15 into the contest.
After the Trojans? first drive ran out of gas at the Hesston 23-yard line, Hillsboro caught a break when Hesston fumbled a handoff on its first play from scrimmage. Tyrell Thiessen recovered the football for Hills?boro at the Swather 26.
A 19-yard run by Evan Ollenburger, a three-yard run by Thiessen and a four-yard run by Proffitt put Hillsboro in the end zone with 7:49 left in the quarter. Jesse Brown?s kick made it 7-7.
Hesston took its last lead early in the second quarter when the Swathers capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive with a 27-yard field goal by Steele for a 10-7 advantage with 9:42 left in the half. The Trojans caught a break on that drive when a 35-yard touchdown run by Schadler was nullified by a holding penalty.
Hillsboro responded quickly again, starting from its own 11-yard line and marching the length of the field in 18 plays. With the ball at the 17-yard line, Proffitt hit Shaq Thiessen with a pass across the middle at about the 10. The senior spun out of a defender grasp and scored. Brown?s kick made it 14:10 with 2:52 left in the half.
The Trojans struck again before intermission when Shaq Thiessen?s punt return gave Hillsboro the ball at the Hesston 37 with 1:00 left.
Consecutive completions from Proffitt to Josh Wiebe (17 yards), Ollenburger (4 yards), Shaq Thiessen (6 yards) and Tyrell Thiessen (10 yards) put the Trojans in the end zone again with 27 seconds left on the clock. Brown missed the PAT, but the Trojans took a 20-10 lead into halftime.
Hesston rallied midway through the third quarter with a 56-yard, seven-play drive that ended when McKinney ran through a swarm of Trojan arm tackles to score from four yards out. The extra point made it 20-17 with 6:03 left in the period.
Once again Hillsboro countered — this time dramatically, as Shaq Thiessen wove his way through a field full of Swathers and returned the kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown. A 2-point conversion pass by Brown failed, but the Trojans led 26-17 with 5:51 left in the period.
Hillsboro managed one last scoring drive that started with 4:50 left in the third period and ended with 11:13 left in the game when Tyrell Thiessen bulled his away across the goal line from one yard out on fourth down. Brown kicked a line drive through the uprights for a 33-17 lead.
The Swather managed a touchdown in the final seconds by capping a 70-yard, eight-play drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass from McKinney to Tyler McCartney with 14.3 seconds left.
The loss Hesston dropped to 1-3 for the year.
Hillsboro will host Smoky Valley next Friday at Joel H. Wiens Stadium.