Late break saves 4-1 Trojans


Hillsboro?s Jacob Edwards (right) makes the hit on Black Bear running back Matt Foster during the second half of Friday?s game. Closing in for Hillsboro is defensive back Matt Yoder.

The Hillsboro High football team took advantage of a bad punt snap late in the game to snatch a 13-8 victory from the jaws of defeat Friday night at Sterling.

The Trojans, who improved to 4-1 with the victory, seemed to be at the end of their rope against the 1-3 Black Bears when they failed to convert a fourth-and-seven at the Sterling 24 with 3:36 left in the game.

But the defense, which had struggled to stop Sterling?s running attack through much of the night, forced a punt after three running plays netted only seven yards to set up a fourth down at the 32-yard line.

?We were going for the block, there was no doubt,? Hills?boro coach Max Heinrichs said. ?We thought we?d have a pretty good chance at it.?

But the Trojans didn?t need to block the kick. The snap came back high to punter Austin Maxwell, who leaped to keep the ball from sailing over his head, juggled it, lost it, then dove on top of it as Trojan defenders closed in.

Suddenly, the Trojans found themselves with new life at the Black Bear 16 and 1:33 to play.

On the next play, quarterback Jacob Fish lobbed a fade pass to the far side of the end zone, where Ben Bebermeyer gathered it in for the score.

?We had three guys wide open he could have picked,? Heinrichs said of the play. ?We hadn?t run it all night but it?s kind of been our bread and butter. I wasn?t real comfortable with the call, but it was a call I felt I had to make because the kids have a lot of confidence in it.?

Hillsboro?s try for two points failed, but it didn?t seem to matter because the Trojans enjoyed a 13-8 lead with only 1:21 to play.

But the drama wasn?t over. Following a squib kick that gave the Black Bears possession on their 41-yard line, two pass-interference calls against Hillsboro helped the Black Bears move to the Trojan 20 with 29.7 seconds left.

After an incompletion on first down, Sterling quarterback Seth Humphreys threw to the middle of the field, where Hillsboro?s Taylor Hagen deflected the ball into the arms of teammate Jacob Edwards for the interception. Hillsboro then ran out the final 13 seconds to nail down the victory.

?I tell you what, our kids never give up, and that?s a credit to them,? Heinrichs said. ?We had every reason to give up again tonight.?

The two teams were locked in a defensive battle through the first quarter of the game before Bebermeyer returned a Sterling punt 70 yards for a touchdown. Ethan Frantz?s kick made it 7-0 with 9:28 left in the first half.

After two more possession exchanges, Sterling drove from its own 33 to the Trojan 25-yard line on four running plays before Humphreys connected with Maxwell for a touchdown pass with only 1:57 left in the half. Bryant Patterson followed with a successful 2-point conversion run to give Sterling an 8-7 lead that it defended until the late debacle.

Hillsboro?s offense struggled all night, finishing with a season low 135 yards of total offense?110 on the ground and 25 through the air on 4-for-10 passing.

?We thought we?d get three or four touchdowns, like we have been doing,? Henirchs said. ?But they did something defensively that covered our receivers in a way that we didn?t have confidence (to pass).

?We had some plays, but we just didn?t make them, and that?s a credit to (Sterling).

?I think we knew they were going to be pretty good,? he added. ?They?re pretty solid and have good kids up front. But I don?t think we believed they would hit us as hard as they hit us. Their coach did a nice job of getting their kids ready.?

Coming?The schedule turns more difficult for the Trojans as they make the long trip to Hoisington on Friday to take on the 4-1 Cardinals, who handled Marion on Friday, 32-6. By comparison scores, Marion throttled Sterling the previous week, 41-6.

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