Fueled by big plays on offense and a determined front line on defense, Hillsboro strengthened its credentials as a team to be reckoned with in the Central Kansas League with a convincing 28-6 win over Sterling at Joel H. Wiens Stadium.
The Trojans came out of the gate slowly, going three-and-out with two penalties in their opening series, then finding themselves facing a second-and-23 at its own 9-yard line on its second possession. But the game turned on the next play when quarterback Tyler Proffitt kept the ball and swept the right side to the far sideline for a 91-yard touchdown run. Jesse Brown?s kick made it 7-0 with 3:27 left in the opening period.
After the defense forced a second Sterling punt, the Trojans covered 89 yards in four plays, capped by Proffitt?s perfect strike to a sprinting wide receiver Shaq Thiessen along the near sideline for a 57-yard score. Sterling?s Jed Dierkson blocked Brown?s kick, but Hillsboro led 13-0 with 10:03 left in the half.
Sterling?s next drive lasted 10 plays but ran out of gas on fourth down at the Trojan 34. Hillsboro then drove 64 yards in eight plays for a third score. One play went for 22 yards on a pass from Proffitt to Lucas Sinclair, and the last play of the drive was a pass for 24 yards from Proffitt to a diving Evan Ollenburger in the end zone. Brown?s kick put Hillsboro ahead 20-0 with 2:46 to play in the half.
Brown?s squib kickoff gave Sterling the ball at the Black Bear 27. Back-to-back face-mask calls against Hillsboro on the next two plays gave Sterling a first down at the Trojan 30-yard line. From there, the Black Bears cut through the Trojan defense like a hot knife through butter, scoring in three plays with running back Austin Maxwell, a man among boys at 6-foot-5, 235 pounds, rumbling into the end zone from 8 yards out. The Trojans did manage to stop quarterback Ryley Gaylon?s 2-point conversion run to keep the score at 20-6 with 1:37 left.
It was the last time Sterling?s offense would threaten the end zone.
After the Black Bears began the second half with a three-and-out, Hillsboro overcame three penalties — including one that wiped out a 28-yard touchdown run by Evan Ollenburger — and still found its way to the end zone when Tyrell Thiessen caught a quick pass from Proffitt and ran in from five yards out on a third-and-4 play.
Hillsboro added two points on a play where Proffitt pitched to Ollenburger who pitched to Brown who passed to a wide open Shaq Thiessen in the end zone. The play gave the Trojans its final 28-6 margin with 6:44 left in the third period.
Hillsboro might well have scored a couple of more times if not bogged down by the flag-fest of penalties the Trojans endured all night long. HHS was flagged for 15 penalties for 125 yards while Sterling had 11 for 83 yards.
Proffitt contributed another strong passing performance in his second start, completing 14 of 22 for 261 yard for three scores and only one interception. Shaq Thiessen and Ollenburger each snagged four passes, Tyrell Thiessen three, Josh Wiebe two and Sinclair one.
The Trojans finished with 376 yards of total offense compared to Sterling?s 208.
The win improves Hillsboro?s record to 2-0 in the Mid Division of the CKL and for the season. Next week the Trojans will host Nickerson.