The Hillsboro Trojans ran into a Southeast of Saline Trojan team that was stronger, quicker and hungrier Friday night and suffered a 32-13 defeat at SES in the district opener for both teams.
Southeast cashed in a turnover in the first quarter and a fumble recovery early in the second quarter for two touchdowns to take a 14-0 lead.
A somewhat listless Hillsboro team got a much-needed shot in the arm later in the quarter when Matt Mortimer of SES fumbled an HHS punt and Daniel Jost recovered the ball for Hillsboro at the SES 36-yard line. Three plays after a hook-and-ladder play gained 27 yards for Hillsboro, quarterback Jacob Fish hit tight end Andy Klassen with a seven-yard scoring pass with 3:12 left in the half. Jacob Wiebe?s kick made it 14-7.
Hillsboro dodged one bullet when Ishmael Morris lost his second fumble of the night at the 50-yard line with 1:35 to go, by holding SES for a four-and-out.
Starting at the HHS 27 with 55 seconds left in the half, Morris raced deep into SES territory on a draw play. A penalty on the play brought the ball back to the SES 30, where Fish?s pass was intercepted by Bryant Beneke in the end zone with 5 seconds left.
SES?s line play wore HHS down in the second half. The purple-clad Trojans scored on a 29-yard run by Beneke on the opening possession of the second half, then Beneke scored again the next SES possession, this time from one yard out, with 4:24 left in the period, and SES led 26-7.
Jost gave HHS life once again, returning the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown. Wiebe missed the kick and the score stood at 26-13 with 4:02 left in the period.
SES added one more touchdown early in the fourth quarter when Beneke threw a four-yard pass to Brant Weaver with 11:30 left in the game.
Hillsboro ended another SES threat on its next possession when Ben Bebermeyer intercepted Beneke in the end zone.
Beneke carried the ball more than 40 times at quarterback for the home team. Meanwhile, SES shut down Hillsboro?s two primary threats on offense, running back Morris and wide receiver Jost.
The loss drops HHS to 4-3 overall and 0-1 in district play. SES improved to 5-2 and 1-0. Next week Hillsboro will play Herington, who lost to Marion Friday night, 61-6, in district play.