The Hillsboro Trojans stayed with a physical Smoky Valley team during the first half of their homecoming game on Friday, but the second half quickly got away from them in what ended up as a 50-14 mugging at Joel Wiens Stadium.
The Trojans allowed only two touchdowns against the Vikings’ relentless ground attack in the first half — the first on 3-yard run by Cort Elliot with 2:34 left in the opening quarter, and the second on a 15-play, 68-yard drive to start the second quarter. Elliott scored again, this time from 2 yards out. Hillsboro stopped Smoky’s 2-point conversion play after each touchdown.
Trailing 12-0, Hillsboro got a huge momentum boost late in the first half when Smoky fullback Riley Odell fumbled the football and Hillsboro recovered it at the Smoky 40-yard line with 1:54 remaining. The Trojans scored in four pass plays, the final one a 19-yard touchdown to Jacob Funk with 1:07 remaining. Wes Shaw’s kick made it 12-7, which held through halftime.
The momentum the Trojans took into halftime popped like a balloon when Smoky returned the opening kickoff all the way back to the Trojan end zone. A blocking-in-the-back penalty nullified the apparent score and put the ball at the Trojan 26-yard line. But three plays later, Viking workhorse back Kyle Anderson was in the end zone anyway at the 10:53 mark.
Hillsboro controlled the football for 16 plays and nearly 6 minutes before their next drive stalled at the Smoky 22-yard line. The Vikings penetrated the end zone 10 plays later on a 5-yard score by Anderson with 37 seconds left in the third period. Smoky passed for a successful 2-point conversion to lead 28-7 as the quarter ended.
The Trojans appeared to have new life when Kleiner connected with Caleb Potucek for a 66-yard pass on the second play of the fourth quarter, putting the Trojans on the Smoky 22-yard line. Kleiner connected with Potucek again on the very next play for the touchdown. Shaw’s kick made it 28-14 with 11:22 left in the game.
Unfortunately, Smoky Valley seemed to score almost at will in the final quarter, cashing in three touchdowns before the final gun. Viking quarterback Brett Heitschmidt scored on 17-yard run at the 7:05 mark, then an interception by Lane Schrag set up a two-play scoring drive with Tim Lambert running in from 38 yards out. On the Trojans’ ensuing possession, Zion Thomas picked off a Kleiner pass and ran it back 45 yards for the final score of the night.
The loss dropped Hillsboro to 1-3 for the season while Smoky Valley improved to 3-1. The Trojans will take on another challenging foe when they host Halstead next Friday.