Hillsboro battled a bigger and physically superior football team for almost three quarters Friday night, but in the end succumbed to Southeast of Saline, 47-21, in the first round of district play at Joel H. Wiens Stadium in Hills?boro.
?I think that?s the best team we?ve played (all season),? coach Max Heinrichs said. ?They were bigger and they got after us pretty good.?
Midway through the second quarter, Hillsboro found itself in a 19-0 hole. Southeast scored first when Cole Brightbill caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nathan Peterson on a fourth-and-10 play with 3:25 left in the first quarter. Then Peterson ran 61 yards on the option keeper with 11:25 left in the second quarter. Brock Long added a six-yard touchdown run with 7:56 left in the half.
Despite the deficit, Hillsboro refused to cave. The home team marched 60 yards on six consecutive passing plays?with four completions, including a 13-yard fade from Luke Moore to Aaron Klassen in the end zone with 6:59 to play in the half. Jesse Brown?s kick made it 19-7.
Evan Ollenburger, who made big plays on offense and defense for Hillsboro all game, prevented another SES score when he intercepted a Peterson pass in the end zone with 2:24 left in the second quarter.
After Hillsboro failed to move the football, Southeast had enough time to score one more time. Peterson capped a nine-play, 58-yard drive with a six-yard scoring run. Long ran in a two-point conversion for a 27-7 Southeast lead with just under a minute left in the half.
But Hillsboro recaptured some momentum when Shaq Thiessen caught a pass from Moore after it was tipped by the Southeast defender, then ran the final 20 yard for a 45-yard touchdown with 15 seconds left in the half. Brown?s kick made it 27-14 at the break.
In the third quarter, Hillsboro pulled to within six points, 27-21, when Tyler Proffitt swept the left end for a four-yard score to cap a 42-yard, five-play drive at the 5:49 mark.
But that?s when Southeast flexed its muscle, handing the ball to the hard-running Long eight times on a 10-play, 71-yard drive, with Long finding paydirt from two yards out and 8.8 seconds left in the quarter.
That drive seemed to break Hillsboro?s resolve. Beaten up and beaten down, the home team gave up two more scores in the final period without limited resistance for the final 47-21 margin.
?That?s one of those teams that plays real physical, and that seems to be a weakness of ours?to get after them when they?re that physical,? Heinrichs said.
Long finished with 220 yards rushing to lead the visitors, who rolled up 389 yards on the ground as a team, and added 100 more through the air.
Moore?s arm was Hillsboro?s best weapon as he threw for 163 yards on 13-for-32 passing.
With the win, Southeast of Saline improved to 6-1 and appears to be the team to beat in district play.
?If we keep our heads up, and get our injuries healed a little better, I think the next two games are games we can get after and still end on a positive note at 5-4,? Heinrichs said.
?I just don?t see anybody beating (Southeast) in the district.?
Coming?Hillsboro will try to even its district record when the Trojans travel to Remington (3-4) Friday. The Broncos lost to Marion, 34-6, in their district opener.