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|Hillsboro’s Zach Jost (right) chases down Wichita Collegiate quarterback Clint Cornejo on Friday night. Don Ratzlaff / Free Press|
The loss stole some much-deserved thunder from quarterback Spencer Brown, who rushed for 205 yards and scored three touchdowns for Hillsboro. One of his scores came on an 84-yard punt return.
Trojan coach Len Coryea struggled to find words after the game.
“I’m disappointed,” he said. “I just feel so bad for the guys. They played with such courage.”
Hillsboro scored on the opening possession of the game, marching 54 yards in 11 plays with Brown scoring from a yard out and 7:52 left in the opening quarter. Brown’s kick missed the mark to keep the lead at 6-0.
After stopping Collegiate in four plays, the Trojans started their second possession on their own 41-yard line and scored seven plays later—overcoming three penalties in the process.
Brown’s 36-yard scamper midway through the drive was a huge play, but Jacob Yoder brought the bacon home with a two-yard run that gave HHS a 12-0 lead. Brown’s 2-point conversion pass fell incomplete.
Collegiate made it onto the board in the second quarter, cashing in on an interception by Austin Bakri by driving 27 yards for a touchdown in six plays. The score came on a 18-yard pass from quarterback Clint Cornejo to Craig Howell. Howell missed the extra point kick to maintain a 12-6 score with 7:45 left in the half.
Hillsboro added one more score before intermission with an 80-yard, seven-play drive. A 60-yard run by Brown set up the score, and a pass-interference penalty on Collegiate assisted.
It was Brown who broke the plane of the goal line from four yards out. Isaac Leihy made a PAT kick to give Hillsboro a 19-6 lead with 18 seconds left.
To start the third quarter, Collegiate drove 72 yards in 13 plays with Chris Brito scoring from two yards out. Howell’s kick made it 19-13 with 6:57 left in the period.
But Hillsboro came right back. A strong kickoff return by Yoder gave Hillsboro the ball at its own 49-yard line. When the Trojans punted the ball away four plays later, Collegiate fumbled the catch. Leihy recovered the ball for Hillsboro at the Spartan 15-yard line.
Yoder scored three plays later from two yards out for a 25-13 lead. A screen pass to Yoder left him inches short of a 2-point conversion, but the Trojans still led by 12.
The back-and-forth pattern continued as Collegiate drove 71 yards on its next possession and scored in 11 plays with Chris Brito bursting in from three yards away. Howell kicked the extra point and Hillsboro’s lead was 25-20 with 16 seconds left in the third period.
Brown lightning struck again midway through the final period. The Trojan speedster gathered in a Collegiate punt and water-bugged his way 84 yards for the touchdown. Hillsboro seemed to be in control when Leihy’s kick made it 32-20 with 7:32 to go.
But not on this night.
The Spartans took the ensuing kickoff and marched 72 yards in 10 plays—with a 38-yard scoring pass from Cornejo to Howell capping the drive. Howell’s kick made it 32-27 with 3:53 to play.
The Spartans than pooched the kickoff. The ball came to the one player who had killed Collegiate all night. Brown gathered in the short kick and took off one more time. But this time he fumbled when he was hit. The Spartans’ Darren Carter recovered the ball at the Trojan 42 with 3:45 left.
As was the case in the loss to Nickerson in the season opener, the defense simply could not make the big stop when the game was on the line—but the Trojans came close.
When Collegiate drove to the 8-yard line for a first and goal, Hillsboro held for three plays. But on fourth-and-goal at the 2, Cornejo pitched left to Hourani, who slipped into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown. Collegiate ran the same play for 2 points to make the score 35-32 with 39 seconds to go.
Hillsboro attempted a couple of trick plays but could not pull off the miracle comeback.
The loss drops Hillsboro’s record to 1-2 for the season. The Trojans’ two losses are by a combined total of four points. Collegiate, meanwhile, improved to 1-2 after losses to Hesston and Smoky Valley.
Brown had an outstanding night, compiling 205 rushing yards on 16 carries—some of them with electric elusiveness. Yoder grounded out 77 yards on 18 carries toward a team total of 293.
Collegiate, meanwhile, rolled up 424 yards total offense—253 yards on the ground on 56 carries, with Cornejo adding 161 yards through the air on 11-for-17 passing.
Although Hillsboro’s undersized defense couldn’t stop Collegiate with any consistency, Coryea said he saw improvement in his squad’s play.
“Our defense played so much better, overall—(Collegiate) is a better team (than past opponents),” Coryea said. “The sad part is we made gains (defensively), but it’s still two games you lose in last minute.”
One achilles’ heel, converting extra points, continued to flair up. The Trojans’ 2-for-5 performances against the Spartans brought their success rate to 5-for-15 for the season.
“I think it’s mental now,” Coryea said. “We’re snake-bit there.”
Coming—Hillsboro will take on winless Ellinwood for its homecoming game on Friday. The Eagles have lost their three games by a composite score of 123-25.
Kickoff at Reimer Field is scheduled for 7 p.m.