Hillsboro proved it has enough horsepower to compete against the best teams in the Central Kansas League, but the team?s fuel tank was just too shallow Friday to make it to the finish line. The Sterling Black Bears pulled away in the final quarter to claim a 30-14 victory in their showdown at Sterling.
For three quarters, Hillsboro held its own against a talented Black Bear team even after adversity struck early. Sterling took the opening kickoff and marched 76 yards in 11 running plays on the legs of Bryant Patterson and Chad Bennett. It was Patterson who crossed the goal line from four yards out for the score. Hillsboro stopped Patterson?s 2-point conversion to keep the score at 6-0 with 6:52 left in the first quarter.
After the Trojans managed one first down on their first possession, Sterling started again at the Trojan 41-yard line. But two plays into it, Shaq Thiessen intercepted a Seth Humphrey pass at the 17-yard line and ran it back to the Hillsboro 37.
From there, the Trojan ground out one first down, but when quarterback Luke Moore started to throw, the Trojans really started to move. Christian Ratzlaff caught one pass for 10 yards, then Evan Ollenburger made an outstanding catch for a 21-yard gain to give HHS a first down at the Black Bear 28.
After an incompletion and then an 11-yard pass to Devin Dick, Moore capped the 59-yard drive when he took a handoff from backup quarterback Lucas Sinclair and penetrated the end zone with a five-yard run up the middle of the Black Bear defense. Jesse Brown?s PAT kick missed to the left, but the two teams were tied at 6-6 with 11:10 left in the second quarter.
After Patterson returned the kickoff to the Trojan 47, five plays later Sterling was knocking on the door at the Trojan 16-yard line. But when Patterson fumbled on the next play, Derek Kelsey recovered the ball for Hillsboro at the 13-yard line.
But the Trojans, hampered by an illegal-procedure penalty, went three-and-out, giving Sterling the ball at the Hillsboro 39 after a short punt by Thiessen.
This time Sterling completed the possession in six plays with Patterson scoring from a yard out with 5:04 left in the half. But Hillsboro stepped up again on the 2-point conversion, stopping Patterson short of the end zone.
Hillsboro then drove from its 30 to the Sterling?s 35 despite three procedure penalties. Sterling got flagged at the end of a nice run by Tyrell Thiessen, moving the ball from the Trojan 20 to the 48. Two plays later, Shaq Thiessen made a great comeback catch of a rainbow pass from Sinclair for 18 yards. Hillsboro got as close as the Sterling 35, but the next rainbow from Sinclair was snagged by Bennett to end the threat with less than two minutes left in the half.
The two teams battled to a standstill early in the third period, with Hillsboro putting up a great defensive stand on Sterling?s first possession, stopping the Black Bears at the Trojan 9-yard line.
Hillsboro then went three-and-out from deep in its own territory, giving Sterling possession at the Trojan 35 after the punt. Again the Hillsboro defense stopped the home team, forcing another punt. The high kick came to Shaq Thiessen, who called for a fair catch at the Trojan 2-yard line. That led to a safety two plays later when Moore was sacked in the end zone.
That sequence seemed to be the straw that broke the Trojans? back. When Sterling got the ball at the Trojan 44-yard line on the ensuing kickoff, the Black Bears made it into the end zone in seven plays on a 10-yard run by Patterson. Bennett scored the 2-point conversion for a 22-6 lead with 11:15 left in the game.
After Hillsboro?s next possession stalled on downs, Sterling sliced through the Trojan defense like a hot knife through butter, covering 65 yards in four plays. Bennett was almost untouched as he entered the end zone from 10 yards out. Patter?son added the 2-point run and Sterling was comfortably in control at 30-6 with 8:34 to play.
The Trojans, with Sinclair and Moore interchanging at quarterback, did put together one last impressive effort late in the contest, moving 84 yards in 10 plays. Moore capped the drive with a 14-yard touchdown run on a quarterback keeper. Mitchell Day added a 2-point run for the final margin.
Hillsboro dropped to 1-2 with the loss while Sterling improved to 2-1.