Hillsboro got some key defensive plays at critical moments to put the kibosh on a Southeast of Saline rally in the second half and escape with a 38-27 win in the first round of district play Friday.
?In the second half, I wasn?t pleased with the way we played the first couple of series in the second half,? coach Max Hein?richs said. ?But I give my kids credit because when it got close they fought hard and they got after it.?
Hillsboro seemed to have SES figured out in the first half as HHS jumped to a 20-0 lead before settling for a 20-7 halftime margin when the home team scored on a 7-yard pass with 32 seconds left before intermission.
Hillsboro?s three touchdowns came on an 11-yard run by Chance Reece with 2:50 left in the first quarter, a fumble recovery in the end zone by Devin Dick about 1:30 later after a bad snap from center, and then a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Luke Moore with 8:59 left in the second quarter.
The second half got crazy quickly for HHS when Moore was intercepted by Brock Long on the third play from scrimmage. Eleven plays later, Long capped a 38-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run with 5:21 left in the quarter to pull SES to within 20-14.
Hillsboro?s next possession went three-and-out and Reece?s high but short punt gave SES the ball at the Trojan 42. Seven plays later, SES quarterback Nathan Peterson floated a pass over the head of his intended receiver and the HHS defenders, but it fell into the hands of SES receiver John Balthazor for a 20-yard score at the 1:05 mark. Hillsboro blocked the PAT kick to keep the score knotted at 20-20.
When the SES kicker whiffed on the ensuing kickoff attempt, SES was called for illegal procedure and Hillsboro got the football at the SES 41-yard line.
After Moore missed wide receiver Ben Bebermeyer on a long pass for the first play from scrimmage, Reece took the handoff and raced 41 yards for the touchdown. Ben Gardner missed the PAT kick as SES defenders poured through the offensive line, but Hillsboro led 26-20.
SES ran two plays on its ensuing possession before the clock ran out to complete the third quarter. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Gardner picked up a fumble in the SES backfield and rumbled 30 yards for Hillsboro?s second defensive touchdown of the night. The score remained 32-20 when Moore?s 2-point conversion pass was intercepted.
But SES came right back on the legs and arm of quarterback Peterson. On a fourth-and-1 at the Hillsboro 45, Peterson sliced through the line and ran 28 yards to the 17. On the next play he connected with Cole Bright?bill for the touchdown pass. The kick made it 32-27 with 8:08 left in the game.
Hillsboro managed only 15 net yards on eight plays before having to punt . Reece?s kick from the 50 put SES on its own 6-yard line with 4:16 to play. Four plays, including a 42-yard run by Long, gave SES the ball at the Hillsboro 47 before Peterson was picked off by Bebermeyer. The senior returned the ball to the SES 43-yard line with 2:20 left.
Hillsboro ran only a minute off the clock before having to punt the ball back to SES. But Reece?s kick pinned the home team on its own 2-yard line with 1:12 to play.
With SES out of timeouts, the clock wound down to 19 seconds after five plays. Peterson then threw desperately downfield, but Hillsboro?s Caleb Hilliard grabbed the ball and went to his knee with 10 seconds remaining.
Heinrichs, looking to give his team the maximum 13-point cushion in district play, called for a deep pass downfield. Moore and Bebermeyer connected for a last-second score on a 40-yard touchdown pass.
Hills?boro still needed a 2-point conversion to reach 13, but the game ended when Hills?boro was called for illegal procedure with no time left on the clock.
The win boosted HHS to 4-3 for the season and 1-0 in district play while SES fell to 3-4 and 0-1.
?It?s a game where we came back and won another way, which is a good thing,? Hein?richs said. ?Our defense gave up more points tonight than maybe we have all year, but they made up for it by scoring for us.?
Coming?The Trojans will take on Remington Friday at Joel H. Wiens Stadium in the second round of district play. The Broncos are 5-2 after defeating Marion, 43-24, Friday.