After four games on the road to start the season, the Hillsboro Trojans could be excused for needing a little time to get used to the foreign but friendly and well-lit confines of Reimer Field.
Trailing winless Sterling 14-7 well into the third quarter, Hillsboro scored three unanswered touchdowns in the final quarter to pull out a 28-14 homecoming win on Friday.
The Trojans got on the scoreboard first when Ishmael Morris scored the first of his four touchdowns, this one from three yards out with 4:27 left in the first period. Jacob Wiebe kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
On the first play of the second quarter, HHS fumbled away the football and Sterling took over on the Trojan 14-yard line. Five plays later Matt Foster was in the end zone for the Black Bears, scoring from a yard out. The kick was no good, and the 7-6 margin lasted into halftime.
Foster scored the game?s next touchdown with 7:57 left in the third quarter on a three-yard run, then ran in the 2-point conversion to put the Black Bears on top, 14-7.
But on Hillsboro?s next possession, Morris broke loose for a 68-yard scoring dash at the 6:55 mark. Wiebe nailed the kick and the Trojans and Black Bears were tied at 14.
Later in the quarter, Morris broke off a 55-yard run to the Black Bear 4-yard line, then scored his third touchdown of the night three plays later from a yard out. The PAT was unsuccessful, but Hillsboro led 20-14 with 2:34 left in the third period.
Hillsboro didn?t secure the win until Morris added his fourth TD of the night with 2:26 left in the game on a three-yard run. Quarterback Jacob Fish passed to Daniel Jost for the 2-point conversion for the final 28-14 margin.
Coach Len Coryea was disappointed with his team?s play through the middle of the contest.
?We had a lot of near-misses on plays that should have been (productive),? he said.
?Even on defense we weren?t doing badly, we just had trouble getting all 11 guys on the same page at the same time…they ran one drive that made 25 yards in penalties. We just weren?t doing our job.?
Morris continued his emerging dominance at the tailback spot, rushing for a career-high 216 yards on 22 carries to go with a career-high four touchdowns. Morris is averaging better than 10 yards per carry this season (71-730) and has visited the end zone 14 times.
?He came to me as we were leaving the lock room at halftime and said, ?Just give me ball,?? Coryea said.
Morris had only nine carries at halftime?and only two in the second quarter.
?I realized we had left him out of the offense, and that was a mistake,? Coryea said.
Fueled by Morris, Hillsboro outgained Sterling 293 yards to 155. Fish added 55 yards through the air on 6-for-14 throwing. Jost caught all six receptions.
For Sterling, Foster broke the 100-yard barrier with 108 on 25 carries.
Both teams struggled with a case of fumble-itis. Hillsboro coughed up the ball three times and lost two while recovering all three fumbles by the Black Bears.
Coming?With the win, Hills?boro improved to 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the Mid Division while Sterling dropped to 0-5 and 0-4.
Hillsboro will host a tough Hoisington (3-2, 1-1) squad this Friday.
The Cardinals are coming off a 6-0 loss to Marion.
?If we play our best game of the year, I think we can beat them,? Coryea said. ?It?s not an imposssibility. We haven?t played a great game yet for a full game.?
Kickoff will be at 7 p.m.