Safety first / Defensive play kick-starts HHS surge

 Hillsboro?s Jesse Meier (54) tackles Remington running back Todd Ensz to score a 2-point safety for the Trojans late in the first half. The play gave Hillsboro its first lead of the night at 8-6, and sparked a surge that continued into the second half of a 43-17 victory. It took Hillsboro almost a full half Friday to recover its moxie after absorbing blow?out losses to undefeated teams the previous two weeks. But once they found it, the Trojans rolled to a 43-17 road win against winless Rem?ington to even their record at 3-3.

Missed opportunities in the red zone haunted the Trojans again in the first half. Three times they ventured inside the 20, but could not score?twice because of turnovers and once on a combination of negative plays and penalties.

Late in the first quarter, Hillsboro did manage to cross the goal line?and tie the game at 6-6?when quarterback Jesse Brown connected with Jakob Hanschu on a 5-yard pass.

It appeared the first half might end at 6-6 after Brown fumbled the ball away at the end of a 14-yard run to the Bronco 2-yard line with 2:47 to play.

Ironically, the play led to the game-changing moment of the night. After a Reming?ton incomplete pass on the first play from scrimmage, Hillsboro?s Jesse Meier tackled running back Todd Ensz in the end zone for a safety.

Hillsboro enjoyed its first lead at 8-6. The Broncos then kicked to the Trojans, who set up shop at their own 46. Five plays later on a third-and-14, Brown hit Jordan Faul with a pass across the middle for a 24-yard gain to the Bronco 24. Brown then found a wide-open Han?schu for the touchdown. Leo Son?tag?s kick was blocked, but Hills?boro led 14-6 with 41 seconds left in the half.

The late surge lit a fire under the Trojans, who turned their first four possessions of the second half into touchdowns.

A 43-yard pass from Brown to Evan Ollenburger led to a 12-yard scoring connection from Brown to Faul five plays later for a 21-6 lead.

Later, Brown connected with Preston Nelson for a 1-yard touchdown with 4:13 left in the third quarter. Extra-point holder Ollenburger then threw to Faul for the 2-point conversion.

After Remington scored in the final minute of the third quarter on a 34-yard run by Eli Igo, Hillsboro covered Remington?s squib kick at the Trojan 41. On the next play, Nelson grabbed Brown?s screen pass and ran it in for the score.

Hillsboro?s final touchdown came on a 33-yard punt return by Hanschu with 11:01 left in the contest.

?We talked about coming out and playing mistake free football, but we didn?t do that the first half,? coach Lance Sawyer said. ?We started making plays and the kids started gaining some confidence in the second half.?

Brown finished with a season-best 374 yards and five touchdowns on 24-for-34 passing. That gives the senior 1,787 yards, 16 touchdowns and a 60 per?cent completion rate through his first six varsity games at quarterback.

Ollenburger led the Tro?jans with nine catches for 157 yards. For the season, the senior wideout has 42 receptions for 710 yards and seven scores.

Sawyer was pleased with his team?s effort on defense as the game wore on.

?We had a few breakdowns, but nothing near what we?ve seen,? he said. ?These kids have improved so much in one week. Let?s hope we continue to improve the next couple.

?We had some kids step up and play,? he added. ?Jakob Hanschu came in and played pretty well. Josh Funk had the best game I?ve seen him play at that linebacker spot. (Linemen) Cody Craney and Levi Mendoza had one heck of a second half.?

Coming?Hillsboro will open district play Friday when the Trojans host Moundridge for homecoming. The Wild?cats (3-3) beat Remington 46-6 Oct. 5. Game time is 7 p.m.

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