It was like Halloween lasted an extra day, but with far more tricks than treats.
In a game of strange plays, mental mistakes and costly penalties, it was Sedgwick?s multiple weapons that ultimately ended Hillsboro?s football season Nov. 1 with a 41-20 loss in the first round of the state playoffs.
?I liked our kids? effort tonight,? coach Max Heinrichs said. ?I don?t want to say we were overmatched, but our kids never did give up. They kept fighting and did some good stuff. But it?s a tough loss for these seniors. They gave a lot this year.?
Freaky first quarter
The game began with a spooky sequence of possessions:
? Hillsboro ended its first possession with a partially blocked punt.
? Sedgwick fumbled away the football three plays later.
? Hillsboro punted again?from its own 5-yard line?only to have Sedgwick?s return man muff the catch. Evan Ollen?burger recovered the football for the Trojans, but HHS had to punt three plays later.
? Then, after forcing a Sedg?wick punt, the Trojans lost the football on a fumble that gave the Cardinals possession at the Hillsboro 34-yard line.
Four plays later, Sedgwick scored on a 17-yard pass from quarterback Trent Stucky to Elliott Money. Sedgwick missed the kick, but led 6-0 with 3:16 left in the opening period.
The ensuing kickoff led to the scariest moment of the night. Trojan junior Lucas Sinclair dove to cover the short kick, taking a hit as he touched the ball.
Sedgwick recovered the loose ball at the Trojan 25, and Sinclair left the field by ambulance. He later was diagnosed with compressed vertebrae.
When play resumed, Sedg?wick botched its chance to cash in on its field position by committing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that led to a fourth-and-25 at the 50-yard line.
The ensuing punt gave Hills?boro the ball at its own 11. Tyrell Thiessen then rumbled off left tackle for 39 yards to the 50, and a personal-foul penalty added 15 more yards to give HHS a first down at the Cardinal 35.
On the next play, quarterback Luke Moore threw to Shaq Thiessen in the front of the end zone to tie the game at 6-6.
Tyler Proffitt missed the extra point, keeping the game tied with 1:26 left in the first quarter.
?There was some weird stuff happening, and we just didn?t get a break?especially that first quarter,? Heinrichs said. ?It came back and bit us. We were fighting like crazy just get out of the shadow of our own end zone. It wore us down.?
Spooky second quarter
The second quarter had its bizarre moments, too. Sedgwick was flagged for offensive pass interference, pushing the ball back from the Trojan 38 to the Cardinal 46. But on the next play, Stucky connected with Josh Locke for a 54-yard scoring pass.
A flag on the play raised HHS hopes for a Cardinal penalty that would negate the score, but the penalty was on Hillsboro. Sedg?wick declined it for a 12-6 lead with 7:53 left in the half.
Then, a successful fake-kick run for two points by kicker Logan Thomp?son was disqualified by the officials because his holder tossed the ball to him with his knee on the ground?which is a downed ball, by high school rules.
The Trojans? next possession ended with a punt at the Hills?boro 5-yard line. The kick was short and high in the face of a strong south wind, giving Sedgwick possession at the Trojan 22 for a 10-yard punt.
Four plays later, Sedgwick was in the end zone on a 5-yard run by Stucky, who then connected with Money over the middle for the two-point pass and a 20-6 lead with 5:30 left in the half.
The score remained 20-6 at halftime, but not until the crowd witnessed a couple more penalties by Hillsboro, a fake-punt pass by Sedgwick that was broken up by Trojan Derek Kelsey, followed by a couple of more penalties on Sedgwick.
Deadly third quarter
The game?s outcome solidified in the third quarter when Sedg?wick took the kickoff and drove 80 penalty-free yards in 13 plays, capped by Stucky?s 15-yard scoring pass to Levi Vogt. Another missed kick kept the score at 26-6, but Trojan hopes were on the brink.
Hillsboro?s next possession ended when Vogt intercepted a Moore pass, giving Sedgwick the ball at midfield.
The Cardinals drove to the Trojan 5, but a couple of Sedg?wick penalties?one for personal foul?and a quarterback sack by Brandon Rooker pushed the home team all the way back to its own 43-yard line for a second-and-57 play.
In a confusing turn of events, two passes later Moore appeared to kill the Sedgwick drive by intercepting Stucky.
But an official ruled that a Trojan lineman had committed a foul before the ball was thrown, thus nullifying the interception and giving Sedgwick a first down at the Trojan 30-yard line.
A Stucky pass to Levi Vogt gave the Cardinals a first-and-goal at the Hillsboro 5-yard line. Stucky then threw to Daniel Vogt for the score. A two-point pass from Stucky to Dalton Brandt gave Sedgwick a 34-6 lead with 1:58 left in the third quarter.
Sedgwick scored again with 9:05 left in the game on a five-yard pass from Stucky to Daniel Vogt, followed by the first successful extra-point kick of the night for a 41-6 edge.
Hillsboro countered with two late scores. The first came on a 19-yard keeper by Moore with 6:35 left to narrow the margin to 41-12 following an unsuccessful two-point pass.
Shaq Thiessen ended the scoring when he intercepted a pass by backup quarterback Brylie Ware and returned it 93 yards with 4:00 to play. Moore ran in the 2-point conversion for the final 41-20 margin.
By the end of the game, the two teams had combined for 21 penalties for 221 assessed yards; Hillsboro was flagged 10 times for 95 yards.
?That?s thing that disappointed me, the personal foul stuff,? Heinrichs said. ?Retaliat?ing is what we were doing, and I was disappointed in that.?
The final score reflected the disparity of offense. Sedgwick rolled up 430 yards (156 rushing, 274 passing) while Hillsboro managed 208 (92 rushing, 116 passing). Sedgwick led in time of possession by a margin of almost 4-1.
?We played a pretty good opponent tonight,? Heinrichs said. ?They just have a lot of weapons. (Stucky) has been starting since two years ago when we played them, and he was good then already.?
With the loss, Hillsboro?s season ends with a 5-5 mark while Sedgwick moved on with a 10-0 record.
?We thought we were as good as a lot of teams on our schedule,? Heinrichs said about the season.
?We thought we had a chance against everyone were playing. You take out the Halstead game and maybe the Southeast?of Saline game, and we played well in eight of our 10 games.
?I?m pretty happy with the season,? he added. ?Obviously, we would like to be 7-3 or 8-2 and still going, but it?s a good bunch of kids and they gave us a good effort.?