Hillsboro?s Caleb Hilliard tries to thwart the tackle of Hoisington?s Corey Engstrom during the first quarter of Friday?s game. Hillsboro ran the ball only 13 times for a net of 15 yards, but picked up 310 yards through the air.
To say that Hoisington pounded Hillsboro Friday night is to say less about the 40-8 final score than the rushing yards and injuries afflicted by the physically superior Cardinals.
By the time the game at Elton Brown Field ended, the home team had rolled up 494 rushing yards on 58 carries?nearly 8.6 yards per tote.
As for the physical toll, the Trojan sideline sometimes resembled a battlefield triage.
Leading rusher Chance Reece took a pop to the knee early in the contest that limited his contributions the rest of the night. Another standout, Caleb Hilliard, was taken by ambulance after the game to the hospital for a concussion.
In between, various Trojans visibly were shaking off a steady dose of Cardinal collisions.
?They?re a very good, physical football team,? coach Max Heinrichs said of Hoisington, which improved to 5-1 while his team slipped to 4-2. ?They had the right scheme for their type of kids.?
As for the score, the game wasn?t as lopsided as it might seem. Going almost exclusively with the pass, the Trojans penetrated the Cardinal 10-yard line four times, but were able to cash in only once: Matt Yoder?s three-yard run late in the contest.
?We just had execution problems almost on everything,? Heinrichs said. ?We had some plays there, but they didn?t happen and I?ll take the blame for that.?
Lost in the final score is the fact that the Trojan defense held off the Cardinals for most of the first half.
?We thought we had a great defensive plan going in, which was to stay low and make them move around us,? Heinrichs said. ?But they had the ability even to move around us. They pulled us in with some scheming, we got caught on it, and they popped out a couple long runs.?
Those two long runs?24 yards by Danton Riedl followed immediately by a 25-yarder by Tanner Klug?set up Hoising?ton?s first score: Corey Engstrom?s three-yard run with 8:47 left in the half. Klug added a 2-point run for an 8-0 lead.
The Trojans then took the ball and drove from their own 30 to the Hoisington 7-yard line on the passing of Jacob Fish. But the drive stalled there and Hoisington took over at the 8 with 4:30 left. That defensive stop seemed to break the Trojans? spirit?at least long enough for the Cardinals to take over the game. Hoisington followed with a 92-yard touchdown drive in only seven plays?all runs?with Klug sweeping the right side for the final 11 yards at the 2:35 mark. He added another 2-point run for a 16-0 led.
Barely 23 seconds later, the Cardinals scored again following an interception return that ultimately gave Hoisington the ball at the Trojan 16-yard line. Riedl ran it in on the next play and Zane Sanders added a 2-point run. Suddenly it was 24-0 with 2:12 left.
Truth be known, Hillsboro dodged a third score after Hoisington recovered Ben Bebermeyer?s fumble following a pass reception during the Trojans? next possession.
The Cardinals, having spent their timeouts, started at the Trojan 37 and drove to the 7-yard line but had to settle for a hurried 24-yard field-goal attempt in the final seconds. A.J. Litch?field?s kick hooked badly to the left to keep the halftime lead at 24-0.
After a scoreless third quarter, Hoisington thwarted a Hillsboro drive at the Cardinal 8-yard line, then drove the length of the field in 14 plays with Sanders running the final 10 yards for the score. His 2-point run made it 32-0 with 5:20 left in the game.
Yoder then scored Hillsboro?s touchdown, which was set up by four consecutive pass completions?including back-to-back 27-yard throws to Beber?meyer?that moved the ball from the Hillsboro 31 to the Hoising?ton 3.
Fish then connected with Bebermeyer for the 2-point play to make it 32-8 with 3:30 left.
But the Cardinals, with substitutes taking over much of the lineup, added one more touchdown on a 10-yard run by Taylor Stumma with 40.9 seconds left and its fifth successful 2-point play in five attempts.
For the night, Hoisington had three ball carriers near or over 100 yards. Klug led the way with 186 yards on 25 carries while Riedl added 99 on eight carries and Engstrom 92 on 13.
Almost as impressive for Hillsboro was Fish?s 310 yards through the air on 23-of-50 passes. Beber?meyer hauled in eight passes for 152 yards.
?We played a really good football team and we played them tough,? Heinrichs said. ?(Our players) did what we wanted them to do: We played tough defense, we stayed low and we threw the ball.?
Coming?The going doesn?t get any easier for Hillsboro when it opens district play at home Friday against undefeated Southeast of Saline (6-0). The purple-clad Trojans are winning by an average margin of 44-9.
The two teams have two shared opponents. Hillsboro beat Sacred Heart 28-12 in the season opener; SES beat the Knights 42-0 on Sept. 25. Also, SES defeated a Lyons team 42-14 on Oct. 2 that had defeated Hillsboro 16-13 the previous week.
?We knew we had tough games coming up and next week is even tougher and more physical,? coach Max Heinrichs said at Hoisington. ?We just have to get healed up and play next week and the weeks after that.?
Game time at Joel H. Wiens Stadium is 7 p.m.