Sterling wears down Trojans late



Hillsboro proved it has enough horsepower to compete against the top teams in the Central Kansas League, but the fuel tank was just too shallow Friday to make it to the finish line. The Sterling Black Bears pulled away in the final quarter to claim a 30-14 victory.

?We knew they were going to be a load?they wore us down,? coach Max Heinrichs said. ?I will tell you, though, I was pretty happy to see our effort through all that. Like the referee said, this should be 30-6 at half. We did some things to stop them, but they just had too much.?

For three quarters, Hillsboro was stretched but did not snap against a talented Black Bear team even after adversity struck early. Sterling took the opening kickoff and marched 76 yards in 11 running plays on the legs of Bryant Patterson and Chad Bennett. It was Patterson who crossed the goal line from four yards out for the score.

Hillsboro stopped Patterson?s 2-point conversion to keep the score at 6-0 with 6:52 left in the first quarter.

After the Trojans were limited to one first down on their first possession, Sterling started again at the Trojan 41-yard line. But two plays into it, Shaq Thiessen intercepted a Seth Hum?phreys pass at the 17-yard line and returned it 20 yards.

From there, the Trojans ground out one first down, but when quarterback Luke Moore started to throw, the Trojans started to move. Christian Ratzlaff caught one pass for 10 yards, then Evan Ollenburger made an diving catch for a 21-yard gain to give HHS a first down at the Black Bear 28.

After an incompletion and an 11-yard pass to Devin Dick, Moore capped the 59-yard drive when he took a handoff from backup quarterback Lucas Sinclair and penetrated the end zone with a five-yard run up the middle of the defense.

Jesse Brown?s PAT kick missed to the left, but the two teams were tied at 6-6 with 11:10 left in the second quarter.

After Patterson returned the kickoff to the Trojan 47-yard line, five plays later Sterling was knocking on the door at the Trojan 16. But when Patterson fumbled on the next play, Derek Kelsey recovered the ball for Hillsboro at the 13-yard line.

But the Trojans, hampered by an illegal-procedure penalties, went three-and-out, giving Ster?ling the ball at the HHS 39 after a short punt by Thies?sen.

This time Sterling completed the possession in six plays with Patterson scoring from a yard out with 5:04 left in the half. But Hillsboro stepped up again on the 2-point conversion, stopping Patterson short of the end zone.

The Trojans then drove from its 30 to Sterling?s 35 despite three procedure penalties. Then Black Bears got flagged at the end of a nice run by Tyrell Thiessen, moving the ball from the Trojan 20 to the 48. Two plays later, Shaq Thiessen made a comeback catch on a rainbow pass from Sinclair for 17 yards.

Hillsboro got as close as the Sterling 35, but the next rainbow from Sinclair was picked off by Bennett to end the threat with shortly before halftime.

The two teams battled to a standstill early in the third period, with Hillsboro putting up a great defensive stand on Sterling?s first possession, stuffing the Black Bears at the 9-yard line after Sterling started with a first-and-goal at the 7.

After Hillsboro went three-and-out from deep in its own territory, Sterling took possession at the Trojan 35 after the punt. The defense stopped the home team once more, forcing another punt. The high kick came to Shaq Thiessen, who called for a fair catch at the Trojan 2-yard line. It led to a safety two plays later when Moore was sacked in the end zone.

That sequence seemed to be the straw that broke the Trojans? back. When Sterling got the ball at the HHS 44-yard line on the ensuing kickoff, the Black Bears made it into the end zone in seven plays on a 10-yard run by Patterson. Bennett scored the 2-point conversion for a 22-6 lead with 11:15 left in the game.

After Hillsboro?s next possession stalled on downs, Sterling sliced through the Trojan defense like a hot knife through butter, covering 65 yards in four plays. Bennett ran almost untouched into end zone from 10 yards out. Patter?son added the 2-point run and Sterling was comfortably in control at 30-6 with 8:34 to play.

The Trojans, with Sinclair and Moore interchanging at quarterback, put together one last impressive effort late in the contest, moving 84 yards in 10 plays. Moore capped the drive with a 14-yard touchdown run on a quarterback keeper. Mitchell Day added a 2-point run for the final margin.

With the loss, Hillsboro dropped to 1-2 while Sterling improved to 2-1.

Coming?Hillsboro?s road won?t get easier Friday when the Trojans host undefeated Hesston at Joel H. Wiens Stadium. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

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