Hillsboro played Hoisington pretty much even-steven (26-24) in the second half of their game Friday on the Cardinals’ home field.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals dominated the Trojans in a 37-6 first half for a solid 53-28 victory.
After the Trojans punted at the end of a four-play opening possession, the Cardinals were on the scoreboard seven plays later when Rudy Gearhart ran in from 21 yards out. The extra point made it 7-0.
With the Trojans staring into a setting sun on Hoisington’s east-west field, the Cardinals recovered a pooch kick at the Hillsboro 40.
Nine plays later the Cardinals were in the end zone again, this time on a 17-yard run by Jake Curtis with 3:48 left in the first quarter. The kick failed for a 13-0 lead.
After another four-and-out, the Trojans surrendered the football on downs at their own 49 yard-line. Five plays later, Xavier Robinson scored from three yards out for a 20-0 lead three seconds into the second quarter.
Aided by a fumble recovery by Hillsboro lineman Colin Settle at the Hoisington 19-yard line, the Trojans scored in four plays, capped by a seven-yard touchdown pass from Kaden Kleiner to Jacob Funk at the 8:54 mark. Wes Shaw’s kick narrowed the gap to 20-7.
But the Cardinals kept pressing, scoring twice more before halftime—first on 1-yard score capping a four-play, 50-yard drive at the 7:33 mark, then a nine-yard run by Curtis with 4:16 left in the first half for the 33-7 lead.
Hoisington started the second half with a five-play 66-yard drive capped by a 49-yard touchdown run by Wyatt Pedigo 2:11 into the third quarter for 39-7 lead.
After Eric Barrett intercepted a Kleiner pass on Hillsboro’s first possession of the half, the Cardinals scored again on a 21-yard run by Sean Urban with 7:33 left in the third quarter for a 46-7 lead.
Teetering on the edge of a running-clock finish, the Trojans fought back, marching 51 yards in nine plays with Kleiner scoring on a keeper with 1:43 left in the quarter.
Hoisington countered on its next possession when Urban capped a four-play, 31-yard drive with a 16-yard scoring run to push the Cardinal lead to 53-14.
Hillsboro struck back late—with Hoisington substituting freely—for two final touchdowns. The first was a 4-yard run by Kleiner with 5:57 left in the game, and the other a 40-yard deep-pass connection between Kleiner and Funk for a 40-yard score.
“We’re definitely still growing and getting things figured out as a team,” coach Devin Metzinger said. “At halftime we challenged them, what are you going to do in the second half? A lot of them stepped up to the challenge and did what they needed to do.”
Although the Cardinals won by a healthy margin, the disparity between the two programs is narrowing. In 2015, Hoisington won 76-6 with a running clock the entire second half. Last season, the score was 41-0 with a running clock the final 9 minutes.
The Trojans avoided a running clock Friday and put 28 points on the board.
“We just need to continue to instill that mentality of one snap, one series at a time,” Metzinger said. “We’re definitely pleased with the direction we’re heading. It’s just needing to get better every week.”
The loss dropped the Trojans to 1-2 for the season while the Cardinals improved to 2-1. Hillsboro will host Smoky Valley (2-1) Friday for homecoming.