Hillsboro?s season opener swung from promising to troubling as Halstead rolled to a 36-7 win over the Trojans Friday night at the Dragons? Hess Field.
Both teams looked ragged around the edges in the early going, committing an array of fumbles, penalties, poor long snaps and general ineffectiveness on offense.
Even so, the Trojans seemed to hold the upper hand. As the game entered the second quarter, Hillsboro found its stride. Quarterback Luke Moore snapped a 1-for-6 passing start, including two interceptions, by effectively engineering a seven-play, 30-yard scoring drive that including three straight pass completions.
The third pass found Josh Wiebe in the end zone from nine yards out. Jesse Brown kicked the extra point and Hills?boro led 7-0 with 8:48 left in the half.
But Halstead suddenly came together, too, navigating 70 yards in nine plays with quarterback Jonah McKee running in from four yards out with 5:14 left in the half. Devon Bibb?s kick tied the game at 7-7.
Halstead?s touchdown seemed to pop the Trojans? balloon. After Hills?boro went three-and-out on its next possession, Halstead mounted another scoring drive, this one covering 55 yards in nine plays. Bibb ran the ball in from 11 yards out, then kicked the extra point for a 14-7 lead with 54 seconds left in the half.
Trojan fans hoping the team would regroup at intermission were disappointed. Hillsboro went three-and-out on the opening possession of the third quarter, then Halstead marched 67 yards in 14 plays. McKee scored from two yards out on a keeper up the middle. Bibb?s kick made it 21-7 with 5:57 left in the third quarter.
The situation only worsened. After Hillsboro fumbled away the football on the first play of its next possession, Halstead brought down the axe as McKee connected with Riley Soward for a 33-yard touchdown strike on the Dragons? first play. Bibb booted the PAT to inflate the lead to 28-7 with 5:36 left.
Halstead added injury to insult when Hillsboro?s all-league lineman, Brandon Rooker, went down with an apparent knee injury on the first play of the Trojans? next possession.
After Hillsboro finished another three-and-out, Halstead executed a 75-yard drive, scoring in 11 plays when Cory Armen?dariz ran in from five yards out.
When the weary Trojans were slow to adjust to Halstead?s spread formation on the extra point, McKee easily ran in the 2-point conversion. Halstead led 36-7 with 10 seconds left in the third period.
Hillsboro didn?t manage a scoring threat the rest of the way, not even when the Dragons began substituting.
Halstead outgained the Trojans 335 yard to 110 and earned 20 first downs to Hillsboro?s six. Armendariz rushed for 161 yards on 23 carries.
?It?s pretty simple, we just didn?t handle adversity very well,? coach Max Heinrichs said.
?I told them at the beginning of the game that we?ll have a time when we?re on top and feeling very good. It will be followed somewhere by adversity. The second we had a little bit, we put our heads down.
?Then we put our heads down again, and every time we put our heads down something bad happened to us.?
Heinrichs said his team?s lack of depth contributed to the problem. ?It?s a concern of mine because these guys are playing both ways and we get tired.?
But the Trojan coach gave Halstead its due, too.
?They?re a good football team, They do a lot of things well and they have a lot more speed than we do.?
Heinrichs was disappointed by his team performance, but not disheartened.
?Our kids will get there, I have no doubt,? he said. ?We will be much better next week and we will play to win again.?
Coming?Hillsboro (0-1) will host Lyons (0-1) Friday at Joel H. Wiens Stadium. The Lyons lost to Marion, 34-0, last week. Game time is 7 p.m.