It?s rare that both teams can walk a winner after a football game, but that?s what happened in Thursday night?s regular-season finale between Hillsboro and Marion.
The Warriors prevailed in the game, 21-20 in overtime. But by virtue of suffering only a one-point loss, Hillsboro returned home with the District 9 championship and will move on in the playoffs.
The game was tied 14-14 at the end of regulation on a misty, chilly and breezy night. Marion won the toss and elected to defend. Hillsboro capitalized on its possession with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Jacob Fish to Jacob Edwards on second down. But the game?s eventual outcome turned on a missed extra-point kick by Ethan Frantz, who had been dead-perfect on his two previous attempts.
Smelling an opportunity to win, the Warriors used a run and a face-mask penalty against Hillsboro to get to the 1-yard line on their first play. Quarterback Matt Sprowls snuck it in from there on the next snap. Brian Fruechting's kick angled right, but still passed through the goal posts for the winning point.
Hillsboro drew first blood in the contest when Fish hit Taylor Hagen with a 17-yard touchdown pass over the middle with 1:30 left in the first quarter. Frantz?s kick made it 7-0. The big play on the drive was a 51-yard pass from Fish to Ben Bebermeyer, moving the ball from the Trojan 20 to the Warrior 29.
Marion wasted little time cashing in for its first touchdown, scoring in six plays. Sheldon Boone registered runs of 10, 42, 9 and 7 yards on the brief drive, but it was Sprowls who registered the TD on a 1-yard keeper. Fruechting's kick tied the game with 11:05 left in the half.
Marion took the lead minutes later. A nice punt return by Boone gave Marion the football at the Trojan 35-yard line. On the next play, Drew Maddox blistered the left end for a touchdown along the home sideline. Fruechting's kick made it 14-7 with 4:20 left in the half.
With Marion leading at halftime, Hillsboro scored on its first possession of the second half on a 51-yard drive. On the fourth play of the drive, Fish hit Edwards with a 25-yard pass to put the ball at the Marion 13. On consecutive plays, Marion defenders muffed opportunities for interceptions, possibly for scores. Fish then hit Edwards with a 10-yard pass to the 3-yard line.
The Trojans almost frittered away the opportunity when three penalties and a bobbled snap contributed to a third-and-six for HHS at the Warrior 14. But Fish hooked up with Hagen on the same play that worked earlier in the contest and got the same result — a touchdown. Frantz?s kick made it 14-14 with 5:10 left in the third quarter.
Marion then pieced together a long, time-consuming drive that started at the Warrior 24 with 1:39 left in the third quarter. It ended 18 plays later when Maddox was stopped on a fourth-and-three at the Trojans 9-yard line. Boone actually made it into the end zone four plays earlier on a 16-yard run, but the apparent touchdown was nullified by a holding call against Marion.
Hillsboro took over with 6:01 left in the final quarter at its own 8-yard line. The Trojans drove to midfield, using as much clock as possible, before punting to Marion with 1:05 left in the contest. The Warriors ran out the clock to force overtime.
With Marion?s win, both teams finished the regular season with a 6-3 record. Hillsboro will move on to bi-district play with a home game on Tuesday night against the winner of the Sedgwick-Remington game on Thursday.