As then, Hillsboro scored easily and quickly in the opening minutes. Jacob Yoder, who returned Haven’s punt to the Wildcat 20-yard line after a three-and-out on the opening possession, raced in two plays later from the 15 for the initial score.
As then, the Trojans failed to convert the extra-point kick and settled for the 6-0 lead.
As then, the opponent regrouped from a shaky start and launched an impressive scoring drive—70 yards in 10 plays, this time. Wildcat quarterback Byron Nienstedt swept the left side for a 12-yard dash to paydirt.
As then, the other team added the extra point for a 7-6 edge.
“I was nervous,” Hillsboro coach Len Coryea admitted. “I didn’t want to get into a shooting match like last week.”
When Justin Simon picked off a Spencer Brown pass three plays into Hillsboro’s next possession, it appeared Haven may have secured momentum with a first down at the Trojan 41.
But in a game of big plays, the biggest one may have come three plays later when Isaac Leihy stole a Nienstedt pass—and Haven’s momentum, too.
With the ball at its own 35-yard line, Hillsboro scored in five plays with Brown breaking loose for the touchdown from 26 yards out 10:57 mark of the second quarter.
Brown’s pass for a 2-point conversion fell incomplete to keep the score at 12-7. But two plays into its next possession, Haven fumbled away the football, and Hillsboro took over at the Wildcat 39.
Four plays later, Yoder found the end zone again, this time from five yards out. The Trojans broke their 0-for-7 PAT season drought when Leihy split the uprights to give HHS a 19-7 margin with 8:14 left in the half.
Any lingering fears of a Nickerson-type game ended five plays into Haven’s next possession. Brown stole Nienstedt pass and ran 45 yards untouched for a touchdown.
Hillsboro’s second successful PAT in a mere 2:27 suddenly pushed the game to the precipice of a blowout at 26-7.
The Trojans would have accomplished the final push before halftime, but Yoder, rumbling toward the goal line from 10 yards out, was hit and fumbled. Haven recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchback to keep the score 26-7.
Except for one defensive lapse, the second half was all Hillsboro. Ishmael Morris capped a 74-yard scoring drive to start the third quarter with a three-yard TD run for a 32-7 lead.
Two plays later, Ukens caught the Trojan defense napping, dashing up the middle for a 50-yard score that cut the lead to 32-13.
After Hillsboro recovered Haven’s onside kick at midfield, Brown heaved a pass to a wide open Daniel Jost along the Trojan sideline for a 50-yard touchdown. Another missed PAT made the score 38-13 with 6:44 left in the period.
Morris added a 23-yard touchdown run on Hillsboro’s next possession with 4:04 left in the quarter.
Following an interception by Jost, Brown capped the scoring with a 30-yard field goal with 11:07 left in the game. The points gave Hillsboro its final 48-13 margin and kicked in the league’s continuous clock rule.
Even with the blowout, Coryea said his team wasn’t as sharp as it had been the previous week.
“The guys have a tendency to want to relax on defense,” he said. “I think they want the ball so much, they forget to stop the (opponent) on first down. That’s what was happening. (Haven was) getting six, seven yards on first down and we couldn’t stop them on second (down).”
Haven finished with 134 rushing yards on 35 carries while Hillsboro rolled up 225 yards on 28. Yoder led Hillsboro with 84 yards on 12 attempts while Brown chipped in 83 yards on eight carries.
Building a safe lead gave the Trojans a chance to work on elements of its game, including a pass-oriented attack with backup QB Ben Gottsch at the controls and Brown moving to halfback.
“We found out we could run two quarterbacks and be pretty efficient,” Coryea said.
Brown competed two of four attempts for 79 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Gottsch connected on six of eight for 58 yards.
By passing late in the game and keeping his first-team defense on the field, Coryea said he wasn’t trying to run up the score against Haven.
“I wanted to work on that passing game earlier, but we just gave up too many yards on defense,” he said.
“Our defense has to stay out there and play because they’re so green,” Coryea added. “We’re giving up so many yards.”
Coming—The Trojans (1-1) will need that defense to mature quickly as they open their home schedule Friday against Wichita Collegiate.
The Spartans are 0-2, but have squared off against arguably the strongest two teams in the league, Hesston and Smoky Valley. Kickoff at Reimer Field is 7 p.m.