Hillsboro defeats Haven, 36-30

Braden Vogt is congratulated by teammate Carson Herbel (86) after scoring a 2-point conversion run to tie the game with Haven at 22 late in the first half. 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. 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.

After Haven’s wide-open Mark Carney caught an 11-yard touchdown pass at the 1:39 mark, quarterback Thane Unruh added the two-point conversion for a 14-7 Wildcat lead.

Two possessions later, the Trojans scored to cap an eight-play, 51-yard drive when quarterback Kaden 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.

But Hillsboro’s elation quickly turned to frustration when Carney returned the Trojan kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown, handing the Wildcats a 22-14 lead with 6:08 left in the half.

Such a dramatic turnaround could have sapped the Trojans, but they went right back to work. Starting at their own 15-yard line, Brooks Gardner broke free for a 53-yard run. Four plays later, the Trojans were in the end zone on a 1-yard run by Kleiner. A 2-point run by Vogt made it 22-22 with 4:47 left in the half.

The Trojans 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 connected with Herbel for a 31-yard pass to the 7-yard line. From there, Her­bel grabbed a Kleiner pass with 44 seconds left for the score. Jorgenson’s kick made it 29-22.

“We focused on taking away their big plays, which would be the sweep,” coach Devin Metzinger said. “They found ways to exploit us to get some early points. It was a great job by their coaching staff to get that done.”

Hillsboro took charge at the start of the second half when Gardner recovered Jorgenson’s onside kick at the Wildcat 31. Hanschu then ran the ball to the 5-yard line on the first play from scrimmage.

Two plays later, Kleiner connected with Jacob Funk for a 6-yard touchdown. Jorgenson’s kick made it 36-22 barely 42 seconds into the third quarter.

The two teams then traded possessions until late in the fourth quarter. With 11:17 left in the game, Haven 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 39-yard score. Unruh’s 2-point run made it 36-30.

With the game on the line, Herbel covered Haven’s squib kick. The Trojans then milked 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 with 36 seconds left in the game. Kleiner took a knee, and the Trojans celebrated a long-awaited second victory.

“I am incredibly proud of the boys,” Metzinger said. “I told them at halftime if they wanted to win tonight they would have to play 24 minutes. They bought in and they did it.”

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

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