Football is said to be a game of inches, and unfortunately on Friday night the Hillsboro football team fell about 6 inches short of a victory over Smoky Valley in Lindsborg.
Trailing 21-7 midway through the fourth quarter, the Trojans rallied for two touchdowns to pull themselves to the brink of a much-needed win. The first score came on a 59-yard scoring strike from quarterback Justus Hilliard to wide receive David Dick with 6:51 left in the game. Jeff Jorgenson?s kick narrowed the gap to 21-14.
After the defense forced a three-and-out on Smoky?s next possession, the Trojans drove from the Viking 45-yard line to the Viking 14 in eight plays. Hilliard then hit Dick across the middle to move the ball to the 1-yard line. Hilliard scored on the next play with a quarterback sneak with 1:03 to go.
With no hesitation, the Trojans went for the win instead of a tie. Hilliard took the snap, drove off left tackle but was brought down literally inches short of the goal line.
Hillsboro, after being dominated by Hoisington the previous week, came out focused and battle-ready in the first half. Near the end of the first quarter, the defense stopped the Vikings four plays inside the Trojan 10-yard line, with the offense taking over on downs at the 4. The first quarter ended four plays later.
On the first play of the second quarter, facing second-and-8, Hilliard connected on a deep pass to Jakob Hanscho down the middle of the field that covered 31 yards and gave the Trojans a first down at the Viking 41. Four plays later, Hilliard connected with Hanschu again for another 31-yard pass — this time for a touchdown at the 10:24 mark. Jorgenson added the PAT kick and Hillsboro enjoyed a 7-0 lead that it successfully defended the rest of the first half.
Smoky Valley grabbed the momentum to start the second half. Quarter?back Cole Norberg engineered three unanswered touchdowns as the Vikings built a 21-7 lead. Norberg hit Brandon Archuleta for a pair of TD passes in the third period, the first from 8 yards out with 6:52 left in the period, and the second at the 2:29 mark from 23 yards away. With 7:07 left in the game, Norberg added the third score on an 8-yard run.
Hillsboro began its heroic comeback on the very next play from scrimmage when Hilliard connected with Dick for the 59-yard bomb.
For the game, the Vikings had a 317-263 yardage advantage in total offense. Smoky Valley out-gained Hillsboro on the ground, 237-101, but the Trojans had the advantage in the air, 162-80, with Hilliard completing eight of 12 passes. Dick caught three balls for 72 yards and Hanschu accounted for 62 yards on two catches.
With the loss, Hillsboro slips to 1-4 for the season while Smoky Valley improved to 3-2.