Hillsboro stops Marion to earn state playoff berth

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Hillsboro quarterback Luke Moore and wide receiver Shaq Thiessen hooked up for three touchdown passes Thursday night as the Hillsboro Trojans defeated Marion, 21-0, at Warrior Stadium in the final regular-season game of the season.

With the win, Hillsboro improved to 5-4 and the right to advance to the bi-district championship game Tuesday at Sedgwick. Marion ended its season with a 5-4 record.

?Marion?s always a good team, and it?s always good to beat a Marion team because it?s a good measuring stick,? Hills?boro coach Max Heinrichs said.

The two teams traded possessions to open the game before Hillsboro launched its first scoring drive. The Trojans got good field possession after Thiessen returned a Colten Johnson punt and the officials added a penalty on the tackle to give Hillsboro a first down at the Warrior 35.

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On the first play, Moore hit Devin Dick with a 24-yard pass to the 11. After two running plays for no gain, Moore hit Thiessen across the middle for the 11-yard score. Tyler Proffitt kicked the first of his three extra points to give the Trojans a 7-0 lead with 6:15 left in first quarter.

On the next possession, Thies?sen intercepted a Cole Lewman pass at the Trojan 29, setting up the next scoring drive. But it wasn?t easy. Hillsboro overcame three penalties and a sack of Moore by Marion?s Dakin Ledford that appeared to take the steam out of the Trojans? drive with a nine-yard loss to the Warrior 25.

Facing fourth-and-14 from there, Moore took the snap, stepped back and lofted a pass into the far corner of the end zone. Thiessen hauled it in with a leaping catch for the score. Proffitt?s kick made it 14-0 with 10:29 left in the first half.

The Warriors had opportunities to climb back into the contest. Later in the same quarter, Marion drove from its own 22-yard line and landed at the Hillsboro 8-yard line in 12 plays.

But facing fourth-and-three, Lewman fumbled the snap and was sacked as he recovered the football, giving Hillsboro possession on downs at the 22.

Marion had another scoring opportunity early in the third period after punting to the Trojan 9-yard line following a six-play possession.

Hillsboro managed to pick up one first down, but two Warrior stops for negative yardage and an intentional-grounding call against Moore pushed the ball all the way back to the Trojan 1-yard line for fourth down.

Thiessen?s ensuing punt was tipped by a Warrior, and Marion took possession at the Hills?boro 29. But the Trojan defense stiffened and forced a turnover on downs after only four plays.

After the two teams traded possessions heading into the fourth quarter, Hillsboro started at its own 24-yard line and drove to the Warrior 16 in 10 plays. Marion?s defense stiffened and stopped the Trojans on downs.

But Marion?s woes continued when a bad snap on the first play of the possession resulted in a 13-yard loss. Backed up to the 3-yard line, Lewman passed downfield to Ledford, but Hillsboro?s Christian Ratzlaff wrestled the ball away in midair for the interception, giving Hillsboro the ball at its own 34.

The interception re-lit the Trojan offense, and the team drove 44 yards to the Marion 22 in six plays. There, Moore and Thiessen hooked up again, this time on fourth-and-11, for their third and final scoring pass of the night. Proffitt?s kick put the final margin at 21-0 with 2:34 left in the game.

Moore finished with 176 yards on 11-for-19 passing.

?Moore came up big, our passing game was big,? Hein?richs said. ?We didn?t have a particularly good game against Remington (the previous week), but we knew if we got them in those (defensive) covers we could do some things. We kept setting it up and getting what we wanted to see, and it worked pretty nice for us.?

The defense stymied Marion?s potent running attack, allowing only 37 net yards on 33 carries. Johnson, with three 200-yard-plus performances this season, managed only 60 yards on 19 carries.

?(Assistant coach Dennis) Boldt does an awesome job,? Hein?richs said. ?Our kids did a nice job, too. (Marion) broke a few, but I thought we did a good job of stopping a very good running game.?

Bi-district?Hillsboro was scheduled to play undefeated Sedgwick Tuesday night in the first round of the state playoffs. For a same-night report of that game, including photos, go to ?Breaking News? at hillsborofreepress.com.

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