Trojans hold off Wildcats for 36-30 homecoming win

Hillsboro battled from behind three times in the first half, then closed the door on a late Haven rally to claim a 36-30 homecoming victory at Joel Wiens Stadium Friday. The win broke a four-game Hillsboro losing streak for a 2-4 season record. Haven slipped to 1-5.

The visiting Wildcats struck first, scoring in two plays on their first possession — first, a 65-yard pass to a wide-open Jeff Hendrix­son, then a two-yard touchdown run by Huntington Davis. The Trojans stopped the 2-point conversion run to keep the score 6-0.

Hillsboro stormed right back, scoring on a 29-yard run by Jorge Hanschu to complete a 68-yard drive in eight plays. Jeffrey Jorgen­son’s kick gave Hillsboro the lead, 7-6, at the 8:33 mark.

Haven took advantage of another wide-open pass receiver, Mark Carney, at the 1:39 mark for an 11-yard touchdown. Unruh added the two-point conversion run to put the Wildcats on top, 14-7.

The Trojans were well on their way to tying the score when quarterback Kaden Kleiner connected with Braden Vogt for what appeared would be a 67-yard touchdown. But Vogt was brought down by a Haven defender around the Wildcat 3-yard line, the ball came loose and Haven recovered it.

But on their next possession, the Trojans scored at the end of an eight-play, 51-yard drive when Kleiner connected with Carson Herbel for a 7-yard touchdown. Jorgenson’s kick tied the game at 14 with 6:23 left in the half.

Hillsboro’s elation quickly turned to frustration when Haven’s Carney returned the Trojan kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown, handing the Wildcats a 22-14 lead with 6:08 left in the half after Ruben Romero cashed in a 2-point run.

That dramatic turnaround could have been a stopper for the Trojans, but they went right back to work. Starting at Hillsboro’s 15-yard line, Brooks Gardner broke free for a 53-yard run to the Haven 32. Four plays later, the Trojans were in the end zone on a 1-yard run by Kleiner. A 2-point pass from Kleiner to Vogt made it 22-22 with 4:47 left in the half.

The Trojans then took a 29-22 lead into intermission. After stopping Haven in six plays, they took over on downs at the Hillsboro 43 with 1:42 left. A pass to Elliot Ollenburger moved the ball to the Haven 40. Kleiner recovered his own fumble on the next play, then reconnected with Herbel for a 31-yard pass to the 7-yard line. From there, Herbel grabbed another pass for the score with 44 seconds left in the half. Jorgenson’s kick made it 29-22 going into intermission.

Hillsboro took charge at the start of the second half when Gardner recovered Jorgenson’s onside kickoff at the Wildcat 31-yard line. Hanschu then ran the ball to the 5-yard line on the first play from scrimmage. After a one-yard loss by Hanschu on the next play, Kleiner connected with Jacob Funk for a 6-yard touchdown pass. Jorgenson’s kick made the score 36-22 barely 42 seconds into the third quarter.

The two teams then traded possessions until late in the fourth quarter. Haven took possession with 11:17 left in the game, and ran the ball to the Hillsboro 39-yard line with 5:15 to play. Unruh then pulled up and threw a strike to Romero for a sudden 39-yard score. Unruh’s 2-point run made it 36-30.

After Herbel covered Haven’s squib kick, the Trojans tried to milk the clock as they moved down the field. But the drive stalled at the Haven 10-yard line with 1:06 to go. Jorgen­son set up for a 17-yard field goal, but it was blocked. Haven took over with 1:02 to play and 80 yards from potential victory.

But the Trojan defense dug deep, forcing a turnover on downs in four plays and 36 second left in the game. Kleiner took a knee, the clock ran out and the Trojans celebrated a long-awaited second victory of the season.

Hillsboro begins district play next week with a road game at Hesston (3-3) next Friday.

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