Three first-half touchdown passes by Jacob Fish helped fuel the Hillsboro Trojans to a 28-12 season-opening win over Sacred Heart of Salina at the new Joel Wiens Stadium in Hillsboro.
The Trojans struck early in the contest. After stopping the Knights? opening possession in four plays, Hillsboro moved from its own 49-yard line into the end zone in eight plays, capped by Fish?s 23-yard scoring toss to wide receiver Jacob Edwards with 6:37 remaining in the opening period.
The kick by Ethan Frantz failed, but HHS led 6-0.
Three plays into the Knights? second possession, Matt Yoder intercepted a Jordan Jerkovich pass to give Hillsboro the ball at the Trojan 46-yard line. Six plays later, Fish hit Edwards again for the touchdown, this time from 27 yards out. Fish?s pass for a 2-point conversion fell incomplete to keep the margin at 12-0 with 2:14 left in the first period.
With 7:39 left in the half, Caleb Hilliard intercepted a Jerkovich pass to kill a Knight drive and give the Trojans the ball at their own 20.
Hillsboro couldn?t move the ball but the ensuing punt by Chance Reece ended up on the Sacred Heart 3-yard line. Two plays later, Jerkovich fumbled the snap at the goal line. He recovered it but the Trojans buried him before he could clear the end zone. The safety gave HHS a 14-0 lead with 5:25 left in the half.
The Trojans weren?t finished yet. They took the kick from Sacred Heart and drove the ball from their own 47 and into the end zone in 10 plays with Fish hitting Ben Bebermeyer with a crossing pass for the final 24 yards with 1:19 to go. Frantz kicked the PAT for a 21-0 lead.
Hillsboro had one more opportunity before the half after Dylan Delk recovered the ball at the HHS 48-yard line. But the half ended with no serious scoring threat.
In the third quarter the momentum swung dramatically. The Knights stuffed the Trojans in four plays on the opening possession, then drove 50 yards in six plays. Colby Wetter picked up 37 of those yards on four carries, but it was Zach Littell who ran the final two on a sweep of the right side for the Knights? first score. The PAT pass failed and Hillsboro?s lead was cut to 21-6.
Once again the Knights stopped HHS in four plays, and once again they scored on their next possession — this one a 44-yard drive in eight plays with Wetter running in from the 2. Once again the PAT failed, and the score stood at 21-12 with 1:11 left in the third quarter.
Hillsboro?s next possession transitioned into the fourth period, but it lasted only six plays before another punt by Reece. A block-in-the-back penalty on the kick return gave Sacred Heart the ball on its own 16-yard line.
A penalty and two botched running plays pushed the Knights back to their 1-yard line. Jerkovich then rolled to his right and threw down field but Bebermeyer made the huge interception that gave HHS the ball at the Knights? 8-yard line with 9:06 left in the game. Three plays later Hilliard broke off right tackle for a nine-yard scoring run. Frantz nailed the extra point for a 28-12 lead at the 8:28 mark.
The Trojans all but sealed the victory when Chris Schafer killed a Knight drive by recovering a fumble by running back Drew Diederich at the Trojan 26 with 7:19 to play. Hillsboro ran nearly four minutes off the clock on its next possession, then stopped Sacred Heart twice more as time ran out
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