Hillsboro loses at Haven, 14-13

After enduring double-digit losses the past three weeks, Hillsboro’s determined but dwindling band of brothers came oh so close to victory Friday at Haven.

Trailing 14-7 at halftime, the Trojans suddenly had victory within their grasp when substitute quarterback Brooks Gardner threw to Caleb Potucek for a 57-yard touchdown with 8:12 left in the game. But the Wildcats stopped Gard­ner on the 2-point conversion attempt for the 14-13 score.

With Gardner and Darian Ratzlaff sharing quarterback duties as injured starter Kaden Kleiner watched from the sidelines, the Trojans struggled to maintain offensive success.

The Trojans started strong, receiving the opening kickoff with a south wind at their backs, then driving 40 yards downfield before the possession stalled.

Haven, with their slight-of-hand spin offense, covered 73 yards in five plays, highlighted by a 57-yard breakthrough by Thane Unruh before he was brought down at the Trojan 5-yard line.

The Wildcats scored two plays laters when Wayne Winter crossed the goal line from three yards out. The 2-point conversion attempt failed, but Haven led 6-0 with 5:56 left in the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Haven’s Haxton Smith intercepted a Trojan pass, giving Haven possession at the Hillsboro 46. Six plays later, the Wildcats were in the end zone again on a 1-yard plunge by Dalton Smith with 7:49 left in the half. Smith added the 2-point run for a 14-0 lead.

The Trojans responded promptly when Ratzlaff hit Jacob Funk in stride for a 76-yard touchdown pass. Wes Shaw’s extra-point kick hit the left upright but the ball ricocheted between the uprights for the 14-7 score.

The loss gives the Trojans a 1-5 record heading into the start of district play Friday versus Hesston. The Swathers were 2-3 prior to tonight’s game. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. in Joel Wiens Stadium.