Dominant line play by Smoky Valley during the first half put Hillsboro in a deficit the Trojans couldn’t overcome as the Vikings prevailed, 36-16, in their homecoming matchup Friday in Lindsborg.
The Vikings set the tone early, shutting down Hillsboro’s opening possession in four plays, then marching 62 yards in 11 plays, climaxed by a 4-yard touchdown run by quarterback Brett Heitschmidt at the 5:14 mark for a 7-0 lead.
The scenario continued in similar form with the Vikings scoring two more grind-it-out touchdowns — the first on a 22-yard run by Kyle Anderson at the 9:03 mark of the second quarter, and the second on a fourth-and-2 dive off right tackle by Kaj Sjorgen with 3:50 left in the half.
Down 21-0, the Trojans finally caught a break. After their third three-and-out possession of the half, Carson Herbel launched a deep punt toward the Viking end zone. The Viking return man muffed the catch and Herbel recovered the football at the Smoky 12-yard line with 2:00 left in the half.
One the very next play, Trojan quarterback Kaden Kleiner connected with wide receive Jacob Funk for a touchdown. Extra-point holder Elliot Ollenburger then snagged a high snap from center, swept the right side and dove into the end zone for a 2-point conversion that cut the lead to 21-8.
Hillsboro’s new-found momentum didn’t last long, though. On Smoky’s first play from scrimmage after the ensuing kickoff, Heitschmidt broke off left tackle and ran from his own 20-yard line to the Trojan 27 — a 53 yard scamper — before he was tackled. Four plays later, Anderson was in the end zone on a 2-yard run with 9.2 seconds left in the half. After a penalty on Hillsboro on the extra-point kick, Smoky cashed in a 2-point conversion run for a 29-8 lead at intermission.
The Vikings began the third quarter in a familiar mode, driving from their own 14 to the Trojan 17 in 16 plays. But Hillsboro stopped the home team on fourth-and-6 to take over on downs.
The Trojans then went to the passing game, with Kleiner completing six consecutive pass attempts to the move ball all the way to the Viking 15-yard line. But Kleiner fumbled the football when he was hit by the Viking line, and Smoky’s Blake Heble recovered the football for the Vikings at their own 15-yard line.
The Vikings then launched another long possession, moving 85 yards in 14 plays with running back Riley Odell crossing the goal line from three yards out with 6:58 left in the game. The extra point made it 36-8, home team.
Hillsboro finished the scoring quickly thereafter. Starting at their own 33-yard line after the kickoff return by Braden Vogt, the Trojans flew the 66 yards into the Viking end zone on three plays: a three-yard run by Kleiner, followed by a 27-yard pass to Herbel and a 37-yard scoring pass to Jacob Funk with 6:13 to play. Funk caught Kleiner’s 2-point conversion pass to cut the lead to the final 36-16 margin.
With the loss, the Trojans slipped to 1-3 while the Vikings improved to 3-1. Hillsboro will play its next game Sept. 30 at state-ranked Halstead.