Hoisington took advantage of its superior size on the offensive line to swing momentum its way in the second half and claim a 28-21 win over Hillsboro Friday night at Reimer Field.
Carl Hickel registered all four of the Cardinals? touchdowns on the ground while Daniel Jost scored all three Trojan touchdowns through the airways.
Hillsboro outplayed the visitors in the first half, taking a 7-0 lead on its second possession of the night. On third-and-three, quarterback Jacob Fish hooked up with Jost for a long 56-yard touchdown strike with 3:40 left in the first half. Jacob Wiebe kicked the extra point.
Hoisington scored on its first drive of the second quarter when Hickel crossed the goal line from 23 yards out with 9:48 left in the half. Dustin Mater made the extra point for a 7-7 tie.
Hillsboro came right back on its next possession and drove 63 yards in 13 plays?overcoming two penalties in the red zone to get it done, including a holding call that negated an apparent 15-yard touchdown by Ishmael Morris on a screen pass.
Fish came back two plays later to connect with Jost once again, this time from eight yards out. Wiebe?s kick made 14-7 with 4:36 left in the half.
But in a pivotal play, Hoising?ton?s Zach Higgins returned the ensuing kickoff to the Trojan 29-yard line, setting up a six-play drive with Hickel scoring from six yards out and with 1:33 left in the half. The kick was off target and the Trojans clung to a 14-13 lead.
Hillsboro almost scored again before halftime, but found itself short of timeouts and ultimately time at Hoisington?s 9-yard line.
In the second half, the Cardi?nals seemed determined to win the game on the strength of its offensive line. They took the opening kickoff and marched 67 yards in nine running plays with Hickel scoring from one yard out. He also ran in the 2-point conversion to give Hoisington its first lead at 21-14.
The Cardinals added their fourth touchdown on their first drive of the fourth quarter. Once more, it was Hickel crossing the goal line, this time from 15 yards out, capping a 76-yard surge that took only five plays to accomplish. Hickel?s 38-yard gallop on the opening play of the drive set up the score.
The Trojans added a final touchdown late in the game. With Ben Gottsch in for Fish at quarterback, the Trojans?aided by Hoisington?s third unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty of the night?started their final drive at the Cardinal 22 and scored in five plays with Gottsch connecting on a fade pass to Jost in the end zone from eight yards out and with 28 seconds to play. Wiebe?s kick made 28-21.
The Trojans attempted an onside kick, but Hickel recovered the ball for Hoisington at the Cardinal 44.
Hoisington?s advantage along the line of scrimmage was evident by the 316 yards the Cardi?nals accumulated on 45 carries. Hickel, a lumbering 194-pounder, led the way with 211 yards on 28 carries.
?I was really proud of our effort,? Hillsboro coach Len Coryea said. ?These kids played their hearts out tonight. They played hard.
?When we give up so much in a mismatch in size, it wears you out. Our problem (on defense) was trying to find the ball because we?re shorter than them. When you?re short, you look around people and you lose that leverage you need.
?But we battled right back. We even had a couple of chances right here at the end.?
Indeed, Hillsboro held the statistical advantage on the attack, 367 total yards to 316. While Hoising?ton attempted only two passes all night, both incomplete, Fish and Gottsch combined for 15-for-26 and 191 yards. Jost caught eight passes for 108 yards. Add that to the Trojans? 176 rushing yards?164 from Morris on 20 carries?and the home team held the upper hand.
?I thought Fish was marvelous tonight, and I thought Gottsch did all right at the end once he settled down,? Coryea said. ?Our pass blocking was much improved; we could throw tonight.?
As for the Cardinals? success on the ground, Coryea said, ?We knew that coming in tonight. I wanted to get where we could match them and just try to keep scoring on them.?
The loss dropped Hillsboro?s record to 4-2 overall and 3-1 in division play. Hoisington improved to 4-2 and 2-1.
Coming?Hillsboro begins district play Friday with its contest at Southeast of Saline. The other two district teams, Hering?ton and Marion, will meet at Herington. Game time is 7 p.m.