A game with more than a few ?if-only? moments for Hillsboro ended in disappointed as the Trojans lost their homecoming game to a tough Sterling squad, 22-12 at Joel H. Wiens Stadium in Hillsboro.
The game was closer at the end than the score would indicate. Sterling scored the only points of the first half when the Black Bears blocked a Chance Reece punt deep in Trojan territory and recovered the ball in the end zone. A pass from Sterling quarterback Seth Humphreys to Trea Lott made it 8-0 with 7:49 left in the opening quarter.
The game became a defensive standoff until the opening possession of the third quarter, when Sterling marched 72 yards in nine plays — including two consecutive defensive-pass-interference calls against Hillsboro midway through the drive. Lott ran in from a yard out for the touchdown. After a 2-point run failed, Sterling led 14-0.
But the Trojans, showing more spunk than they did in the first half, took the ball at the Sterling 46 after a strong kickoff return by Caleb Hillard, and drove the remaining yards to the end zone in 11 plays with Hilliard scoring on a 3-yard run. Ben Gardner?s kick was wide right, making it 14-6, Sterling, with 4:08 left in the third quarter.
After Hilliard intercepted a Humphreys pass on the next Black Bear drive, Hillsboro got the ball back on the Sterling 39-yard line. The Trojans drove to the 18, where three straight incomplete passes brought up fourth-and-10. Gardner attempted a 35-yard field goal into the south light breeze, but it fell short.
Sterling seemed bent on scoring on its next possession until Derek Kelsey intercepted a Humphreys pass on third-and-5 at the Sterling 48 and returned it to the Sterling 20 with 6:49 left in the fourth quarter. Six plays later quarterback Luke Moore hooked up with Dylan Delk for a 6-yard touchdown pass with 5:06 left in the game to make it 14-12. Moore?s 2-point pass to Gardner fell incomplete, denying the Trojans a tie.
Hillsboro then stopped Sterling on three plays, forcing a punt with 2:48 to go. The Trojans got the ball at the 14-yard line with the game on the line. After one incomplete pass to Ben Bebermeyer, Moore threw again to the all-league wide receiver. This time Bebermeyer made the catch but was hit a moment later, jarring the ball loose. Sterling recovered the ball at the Trojan 19, then scored five plays later with 12 seconds left on a 3-yard run by Alex Burgess. The 2-point pass was good to Kirk Engelland for the final 22-12 margin.
The loss drops Hillsboro?s record to 1-2 for the year as well as in the CKL North Division. Sterling improved to 2-1 overall and 2-0 in the North.